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Fairfax County Police Lt. Dan Spital talks to the media at Lake Accotink after a coyote bit three adults and two dogs (via Fairfax County Police Department)

Fairfax County Animal Protection has seen an increase in the number of coyote-related calls since a rabid coyote bit three adults, two dogs and an officer last month.

“The recent incident of the rabid coyote at Lake Accotink has understandably created concerns for many residents about wildlife and public health and safety,” the Animal Protection Police said.

However, they say rabid coyotes are relatively rare, and none of the calls have indicated the animals sighted have rabies.

Coyotes are well-established in the county, and it’s normal to see them in parks and residential neighborhoods. They generally avoid human contact. The coyote that was spotted in June displaying signs of rabies — biting vehicle tires and other aggressive behavior — was killed after he bit an officer.

Since then, there have been 12 calls for service related to coyotes in the Springfield area. Seven of those reported coyote sightings involved the animals living close to people but displaying normal behavior, two reported injured coyotes, and the others shared concerns.

Animal Protection Police says most of the behavior reported is not indicative of sick or rabid animals, “especially given the time of year with coyotes raising pups.” Park ecologists were also monitoring the site and did not detect any unusual wildlife behavior on camera, police said.

“Based on the information received, the Animal Protection Police and Wildlife Management Specialist do not consider there to be an increased threat of rabies at Lake Accotink Park,” Animal Protection Police said.

In one call reported in June, a coyote followed a person on a trail, but when Animal Protection Police arrived, the animal was gone.

“The event notes stated the coyote seemed to be displaying normal behavior per the conversation with the caller,” police said. “The behavior described sounded like the coyote was engaged in ‘escorting’ behavior where coyotes will sometimes escort people and pets out of their territory, especially if there might be a den nearby.”

Another call in June reported a coyote “circling, barking, and snarling” at Greentree Village Park, and on Monday, July 18, a caller said he was approached by coyotes twice in Lake Accotink Park but was able to scare them away.

“The caller was fearful that the coyotes might attack him and requested an escort from the park,” police said. “A patrol unit provided him a ride out of the park. There was no mention of symptoms or behavior consistent with rabies in the event notes.”

Police said most of the calls were not within the immediate Lake Accotink area and were reported several miles from the park throughout the greater Springfield area.

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Springfield Town Center’s parking lot was partly blocked off after a fatal police shooting yesterday (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

The Fairfax County Police Department released dashboard and body camera footage today (Friday) from the fatal police shooting at Springfield Town Center last month.

An approximately 9-minute and 30-second video shows footage from dash cams and body cameras edited together to show the police response from Thursday, June 30, to the shopping center parking lot.

According to the FCPD, the officers knew Reston resident Christian Parker, 37, was there and was wanted for stealing a gun from a Reston home days before, after he pointed it at a relative and discharged it.

“When we obtain an arrest warrant for someone, particularly someone who’s wanted for a violent crime, a felony, it’s an absolute priority for the department to take them into custody because they’re a danger to themselves, their family,” Police Chief Kevin Davis said at a press conference. “It was a priority to apprehend him.”

After officers blocked Parker’s vehicle in, they demanded multiple times that he show his hands or put down a gun. They then shot him.

“Our officers were faced with a very dangerous situation,” Davis said. “I think they were brave. I think they acted lawfully and in compliance with our policies and community expectations. Watching a use-of-force on a video or seeing it in person, it’s never pretty, especially when someone’s life is lost. We realize that and take it seriously.”

Davis also said a best case scenario would have been to get Parker before he got into the car.

“One of the goals of apprehending him was for him not to go mobile,” he said. “We don’t want to get into a situation where we’re chasing someone in a car, because then, exponentially more people are in danger.”

Note: The following video contains strong language and is not safe for work.

The video shows an officer in a vehicle watching as Parker returns to his car and appears to be checking his back tires. The officer drives straight ahead into a parking spot behind the car and says over the radio to “box him in.”

Parker gets into the car as another police vehicle parks in front of the car, blocking him into the spot. An officer runs to the driver’s side of the car pointing a gun at Parker and shouting “show me your hands.” Another officer in front of the vehicle also points his gun at Parker in the car and says “he’s reaching.” Read More

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Greenbriar East Elementary School (via Greenbriar East/Facebook)

A Greenbriar East Elementary School health aide has been indicted on charges for stealing students’ medication, according to the Fairfax County police.

Former Fairfax County Health Department employee Jennifer Carpenter, 45, of Fairfax falsified documentation on prescription medication she gave students, according to a press release. Carpenter dispensed sugar placebo pills and over-the-counter medicine in place of narcotics — including Ritalin, Adderall, and Focalin — that police believe she was keeping for personal use.

During the investigation, detectives identified seven students at the Fair Lakes area school whose medicine was being abused, police said.

Detectives began investigating on May 27 after a health department supervisor noticed a discrepancy in the amount of medication several students maintained at the school, the release said.

Carpenter was indicted on seven counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor; two separate counts of unlawful possession of controlled substances; one count of obtaining drugs by fraud, deceit, misrepresentation, embezzlement, or subterfuge; and one count of unlawful dispension of a drug in place of another without permission of the person ordering/prescribing.

In a statement, FCPD Criminal Investigations Division Commander Captain Frederick Chambers said:

As parents, we have an expectation that a person in a position of trust will care for our children. When that trust is broken, we can feel betrayed. Thanks to the swift notification of the health department and schools, our detectives were able to immediately begin their investigation when the discrepancy was noticed. We will continue to hold anyone who abuses their position of power accountable for their actions.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Steven Descano called Carpenter’s actions a “gross breach of trust” in a statement.

“This situation could have easily evolved into a medical emergency for any of the children affected,” the statement reads.

If convicted, Carpenter faces a sentence of three to 32.5 years in prison, and up to $25,000 in fines, Descano said.

Police ask anyone with information about the case to call 703-591-0966. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone – 1-866-411-TIPS (866-411-8477), and by web.

Photo via Greenbriar East/Facebook

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The scene of a crash that injured six people in Oakton (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Fairfax County is looking into purchasing additional “Know Your Speed” signs after a fatal crash that killed two Oakton High School students, and seriously injured a third.

After the Oakton crash in early June, the devices were placed on Blake Lane, where the teenagers were walking on the sidewalk before they were struck by a speeding car. Police say the driver, an 18-year-old who has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, was going around 81 mph where the speed limit was 35 mph.

“These signs, that are currently limited in supply and moved to different locations across the county, were deployed to Blake Lane immediately following the crash, and were very much appreciated by the community,” Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik said on Tuesday (July 19). “They have now been, understandably, rotated to another site. With a larger inventory of these devices, we could serve more communities for longer periods of time, but I am interested in the staff assessment of this idea.”

The Board of Supervisors directed staff to provide information and recommendations on purchasing more of the devices, which can take the form of signs on mobile trailers or fixed to posts as well as radar guns.

Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust said police have told him no one is available to place the speed devices in his district. The Fairfax County Police Department used to have three people who were properly trained to place them, but two left and one was assigned to a different squad, he said.

“I think we can add all the devices we want, but if we can’t get them in place…Part of this I would hope is that the police will come back and tell us how they’re going to take the devices we have and get them out into the field,” Foust said. “And I ask that it not be relying on district by district. I mean, it’s a countywide problem.”

There are different kinds of devices, and some don’t require a special certification to utilize the devices, Palchik said.

With the FCPD experiencing staffing challenges, Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity wondered if civilians could be trained to set up the devices.

“One of the things we might be able to look at as a solution is do we really need police officers to set these up, or can we get other folks trained to set it up? I don’t know whether that’s an option,” he said. Read More

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The sun sets behind layers of buildings and clouds (Staff Photo by Jay Westcott)

Fairfax County and the surrounding area are under a Heat Advisory today (Thursday), as temperatures are expected to feel like it’s above 100 degrees outside.

The advisory begins at 11 a.m. and will remain in effect until 8 p.m. as temperatures in the upper 90s, combined with humidity, will have heat index values around 105 degrees. The hot temperatures and high humidity may cause heat illnesses to occur, the advisory warns.

Drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of the sun, and check up on relatives and neighbors. Young children and pets should never be left unattended in vehicles under any circumstances. Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside. When possible reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening. Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Wear lightweight and loose fitting clothing when possible. To reduce risk during outdoor work, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends scheduling frequent rest breaks in shaded or air conditioned environments. Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location. Heat stroke is an emergency! Call 9 1 1.

Cooling centers are available in Fairfax County for those who need a place to escape the heat.

The National Weather Service also says there’s a chance for isolated showers and thunderstorms after 2 p.m.

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A Fairfax County police car (file photo)

Fairfax County police have charged three people in connection to the embezzlement of as many as 35,000 Fairfax County Public Schools laptops with an estimated value of over $2 million, police said.

In March, detectives were notified that several thousand laptops were believed to be illegally reallocated and stored at a Springfield warehouse, in the 6800 block of Industrial Road, and were set to be auctioned.

Detectives identified a box truck registered to Attyah Computer Recycling (44190 Waxpool Rd Ste 157, Ashburn) that went to the warehouse on multiple occasions, police said. Laptops and computer parts would be loaded into the truck, and the driver would leave without showing any paperwork.

Detectives were conducting surveillance at the warehouse on July 14 and observed the truck arrive, police said. They conducted a traffic stop and found stolen laptops in the vehicle. The driver, Fadi Atiyeh, 36, of Centreville, was arrested and charged with receiving stolen property and larceny with the intent to distribute. Detectives determined he was employed by Attyah Computer Recycling where a search warrant was executed and additional evidence was recovered.

Police identified two warehouse employees, who were also employed by FCPS, as facilitating the transactions. Franque Minor II, 35, of Maryland, and Mario Jones Jr., 21, of Woodbridge, were charged with embezzlement and larceny with the intent to distribute.

While the detectives are still combing through evidence, they believe as many as 35,000 laptops were stolen with an estimated value of over $2 million. They believe the offenses date back to November of 2020.

Police ask anyone with information to call detectives at 703-256-8035. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone – 1-866-411-TIPS (866-411-8477), and by web.

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The Fairfax County Adult Detention Center (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

(Updated at 4:45 p.m.) A 61-year-old inmate at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center died yesterday (Monday) in a hospital after “a medical emergency,” Fairfax County police said.

Glenn Myer was transported to Fairfax Hospital on Friday (July 15) for a medical emergency, according to a Fairfax County Police Department press release. He was in the ICU when he died from the medical emergency, police said.

“Mr. Myer was suffering from a terminal illness at the time of his death,” the release said. “Preliminarily, there are no signs of foul play.”

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will determine the exact manner and cause of death. Police are investigating the incident as they do for all Sheriff’s Office in-custody deaths.

Myer was arrested in December 2020 on charges of aggravated malicious wounding, stemming from an incident where police say he shot another person in his apartment in the Pimmit Hills area. He also shot at responding officers, police said.

“The officers discharged their firearms striking Myer and ending the threat,” police said. “Myer was transported to Fairfax Hospital immediately after the event.”

After he was released, Myer was charged and taken to the detention center, where he has remained since. He was also facing charges of of attempted capital murder of a law enforcement officer, attempted first-degree murder, and four counts of the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

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The National Weather Service issued a Severe Thunderstorm Watch in the area through 10 p.m. (via National Weather Service)

Fairfax County and areas nearby are under a Severe Thunderstorm Watch this evening.

The National Weather Service issued a Flood Watch earlier today (Monday), cautioning flooding may occur this evening, and a Severe Thunderstorm Watch is in effect until 10 p.m.

“Excessive runoff may result in flooding of rivers, creeks, streams, and other low-lying and flood-prone locations,” the Flood Watch reads. “Afternoon to evening showers and thunderstorms may produce very heavy rainfall capable of flash flooding. This could include multiple rounds of storms which would enhance the flood risk. Rainfall rates may reach 1 to 2 inches per hour, locally higher in spots. The D.C. and Baltimore metros will be the most susceptible given recent heavy rainfall the past couple of weeks.”

The National Weather Service advises residents to monitor forecasts and be prepared in case of flash floods.

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Fairfax County Police are searching for Jose Hernandez Mejia, who they say fatally stabbed his wife (via Fairfax County Police Department)

Updated at 2 p.m. — Jose Hernandez Mejia was arrested this morning in South Carolina for allegedly stabbing his wife, Evelin Molina, Fairfax County police said

Earlier: Fairfax County police are searching for a man wanted in a fatal stabbing in Springfield over the weekend.

Jose Hernandez Mejia asked a family member yesterday (Sunday) to come to his home in the 5200 block of Rolling Road and explained to them that he had just stabbed his wife inside, police spokesman Lt. Dan Spital said at a press conference. He then handed over some personal belongings to family members and left the scene.

He left in a 2016 black Honda HRV with Virginia tags, TXV-1986, Spital said. Officers arrived at the scene, entered the home and located a dead woman with upper body trauma consistent with stab wounds, he said. A knife was located nearby with what appeared to be blood on it.

Police issued a warrant for Hernandez Mejia, stating he’s wanted for second-degree murder. Spital said they’ve been in communication with him and thought he was going to turn himself in. He still had not turned himself in as of this morning (Monday).

The department asks anyone who sees him or his vehicle to call 9-1-1 immediately.

While police believe the stabbing was isolated to the family and home, and that there isn’t an immediate threat, they say the public should use caution if they see Hernandez Mejia, and consider him armed and dangerous.

“We are actively looking for him, we are asking for the community’s help,” police said.

Spital said there were minimal previous calls for service at the home, and none of them were domestic-related.

Hernandez Mejia and his wife have children but they are safe, Spital said.

“A tragic situation, these domestic-related homicides are awful and we are doing everything that we can to help families that are in crisis,” Spital said.

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A sign for Old Lee Highway in Fairfax (via Google Maps)

If you’re passing through the City of Fairfax, some of the streets you drive will be renamed.

Names of 14 of streets will be changed after the City Council voted Tuesday to go with the recommendations by the Connecting Fairfax City for All Stakeholder Advisory Group. The advisory group was established to examine Confederate related street and place names, historical markers and monuments and elements within the city seal.

The streets to be renamed are Confederate Lane, Lee Highway, Lee Street, Mosby Road, Mosby Woods Drive, Old Lee Highway, Plantation Parkway, Raider Road, Ranger Road, Reb Street, Scarlet Circle, Singleton Circle, Traveler Street and Stonewall Avenue. The renaming public engagement and selection process will begin, according to the city.

Several jurisdictions have recently moved to rename roadways and buildings in light of their ties to the Confederacy. In Fairfax County, one of the districts was recently renamed Franconia District, ridding it of the name Lee. In Arlington, Langston Boulevard was previously named Lee Highway. Jefferson Davis Highway in Arlington was also renamed.

The City of Fairfax’s advisory group also recommended the city stop using its current seal, as it develops a process to replace or revise it, possibly keeping the motto and dogwood flowers but removing Confederate soldier John Quincy Marr and British Lord Fairfax, according to the group’s report.

“While the [advisory group] notes that symbolism of the city seal, monuments and markers, and street and neighborhood names is a crucial start to the task of achieving greater equity and inclusion, the Group also believes that Fairfax City has an opportunity to be a leader in bringing systemic changes to the lives of historically disadvantaged groups,” the report reads.

Photo via Google Maps

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