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Southbound I-495 approaching the exit to Gallows Road (via Google Maps)

(Updated at 11:55 a.m.) Virginia State Police are investigating a fatal motorcycle crash that occurred on I-495 South in the Annandale area last Friday (Sept. 23), the agency announced today (Thursday).

According to police, 25-year-old Carlos Javier Velez Mantalvo from Orlando, Florida, was riding a 2006 Honda CBR600 motorcycle, going south on I-495 early that morning.

Near the Gallows Road exit, which leads to the Inova Fairfax Hospital campus, Velez Montalvo “rapidly” reduced his speed, “lost control and laid the motorcycle down in the roadway,” state police said.

“The operator then slid across the pavement away from the motorcycle,” VSP said in a news release.

Police responded to the crash at 2:02 a.m. Velez Montalvo was transported to the nearby hospital, but he succumbed to his injuries.

Police say he was wearing a helmet when the motorcycle crashed.

Photo via Google Maps

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A Fairfax County police SUV with lights on (file photo)

A 19-year-old man from Annandale died Saturday (Sept. 17) after being shot during what police describe as a “confrontation” outside the Woodlawn Garden Apartments.

Darlin Ariel Diaz Flores was reported shot at 9:34 p.m. by a community member who heard a gunshot and found him laying on a sidewalk in the 8400 block of Graves Street, the Fairfax County Police Department said yesterday (Sunday).

When officers arrived at the scene, they found Diaz Flores suffering from gunshot wounds to the upper body, according to police.

“Officers provided life-saving measures and Daiz Flores was transported to Fairfax Hospital with injuries that were considered life threatening,” the FCPD said in its blog post. “Flores was pronounced deceased at 10:22 p.m.”

A preliminary investigation indicates Diaz Flores was with a group of friends outside a nearby apartment when an argument began with a passerby, escalating into gunfire. Police say the suspect was described as a Hispanic man, and he was wearing a black hoodie and black pants at the time of the shooting.

The FCPD is also investigating a separate shooting that occurred in Annandale on Sunday.

According to a tweet from 5:43 p.m., police found a man with a gunshot wound to his lower body in the 3300 block of Woodburn Road, near Inova Fairfax Hospital. The man was hospitalized with injuries initially considered life-threatening.

The victim’s condition was later upgraded, but he remains in the hospital, as of yesterday evening.

If anyone has information about the incidents, the FCPD advises calling its Major Crimes Bureau detectives at 703-246-7800, option 2. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone (1-866-411-TIPS), text (type “FCCS” plus tip to 847411), and online.

“Anonymous tipsters are eligible for cash rewards of $100 to $1,000 dollars if their information leads to an arrest,” the FCPD says.

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The Fairfax County Courthouse (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

A man who sexually abused children for years at a home day care in Annandale has been sentenced to life in prison, Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano announced today (Friday).

Elwood Lewis Thomas, a 38-year-old man from Alexandria, will serve four life sentences and an additional 36 years in prison after being convicted last year on multiple counts of rape, aggravated sexual battery, and sexual penetration with an object, according to Descano’s office.

“We asked that Mr. Thomas be sentenced to life in prison because of his abhorrent history of sexually abusing children,” Descano said in a statement. “My thoughts are with these children and their families as they begin the journey of healing.

Fairfax County police arrested Thomas in September 2019 and charged him with abusing three kids while they attended Happy Land Daycare from 2006 to 2010. The day care operated in the 6400 block of Holyoke Drive from approximately 1999 to 2012, the police department said at the time.

According to police, Thomas had been employed at the day care and was living in the house between 1999 and 2012. The children were between 4 and 8 years old at the time of the abuse, the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney says.

Thomas had previously been arrested for molesting a girl at the day care in June 2012. The girl, then 14, alleged that Thomas had inappropriately touched her on multiple occasions when she was 11 or 12, The Washington Post reported at the time.

For that case, Thomas was convicted in 2013 of aggravated sexual battery of a child under 13. The Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney says he was sentenced to eight years in prison, but seven years were suspended, and he was ordered to spend 20 years on probation.

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The northbound I-495 exit ramp to Little River Turnpike (via Google Maps)

A driver heading from the Capital Beltway onto Little River Turnpike in Annandale shot at another vehicle early this morning (Thursday), Virginia State Police say.

Police are investigating the incident after receiving a call around 4:50 a.m. from an individual who said they had been shot at after pulling off on the I-495 exit ramp:

At approximately 4:50 a.m.,  Virginia State Police were notified by an individual calling in to say that his vehicle was shot at as he and another vehicle were traveling north on I-495 approaching Exit 52B in Fairfax County. Both vehicles pulled off onto the Exit 52B ramp, at which time the shooting suspect exited his vehicle and fired multiple shots at the victim. The shooting suspect then got back into his vehicle and drove away.

The victim didn’t report any injuries resulting from the encounter, police said.

According to VSP, troopers “immediately” responded to the area, and a criminal investigation by the agency’s Fairfax Field Office is now underway.

Police say anyone with information can contact them by dialing #77 on a cell phone, calling 703-803-0026, or emailing questions@vsp.virginia.gov.

Photo via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

People walk by Caffi Field, a football field in Vienna (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Driver in Fatal Franconia Crash Charged With Manslaughter — Sara Flores, 20, of Lorton was charged with involuntary vehicular manslaughter yesterday morning (Thursday) for a May 12 crash in Franconia where she allegedly drove into a telephone pole, killing a passenger. Police had already obtained a warrant charging Flores with driving under the influence. [FCPD]

Developer Pleads Guilty in Teen’s Death — “The owner of a Virginia construction company that specializes in luxury homes pleaded guilty Wednesday to involuntary manslaughter in the death of a 16-year-old boy who was killed while working for his company in 2019. Thomas Digges, of Digges Development Corporation, operated the Fairfax County job site where a trench gave way and buried Spencer Lunde, of McLean, on July 23, 2019.” [NBC4]

Two Displaced by Fair Oaks Townhouse Fire — A fire at a three-story townhouse in the 12000 block of Dorforth Drive on Wednesday (Aug. 10) was caused by improperly discarded smoking materials, the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department says. The fire displaced two residents and resulted in approximately $175,000 in damages. [FCFRD]

One Rescued From Annandale House Fire — “8/11/22 at 1:08 a.m., in 3800 block of Gallows Road. One occupant trapped on 2nd floor was rescued by #FCFRD crews via ladder. Fire contained to basement. No injuries. NO smoke alarms found in home! Cause: improperly discarded smoking material. Damages $16K.” [FCFRD/Twitter]

County Names New Planning and Development Director — Fairfax County has appointed Tracy Strunk as director of its Department of Planning and Development, where she succeeds Barbara Byron, who retired earlier this year. Strunk’s career for the county goes back to 1998 and includes work as a planner and a member of the team that helped develop the Tysons Comprehensive Plan. [Fairfax County Government]

Fairfax County Public Schools Creates Program to Help Hire Teachers — “[Catherine] Coulter is entering her first year teaching in Virginia’s largest school system as a teaching resident, a newly-created position aimed at placing qualified teachers in classrooms while they take the final steps toward receiving a specific certification.” [WTOP]

Expansions and Renovations in Progress at FCPS — “Most students and teachers have taken the summer off, but Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) has been busy with its usual tall order of school renovations and additions. Improvements now are in progress at these schools in the Sun Gazette’s readership area” [Sun Gazette]

Falls Church Development Nears Movie Theater Lease — “Developers of the new Founder’s Row mixed use development…announced through a new filing with the City that it is ‘in the final stages of securing a lease with Paragon Theaters,’ noting that ‘Paragon will operate a seven-screen movie theater, including an IMAX-similar screen with a total capacity of approximately 600 seats.'” [Falls Church News-Press]

Fairfax Shopping Center Gets New Mural — “If you’ve been by the Giant at Scout on the Circle recently you might have noticed some color appearing on the walls! The Abstract Expressionist painting on the corner of the building is by Steven Johnson. Johnson is a Indiana biased artist, who recently made his art available in the public domain.” [City of Fairfax/Facebook]

It’s Friday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 81 and low of 68. Sunrise at 6:21 am and sunset at 8:09 pm. [Weather.gov]

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The Audrey Moore Rec Center in Annandale (via Fairfax County Park Authority)

(Updated at 4:50 p.m.) The Audrey Moore Rec Center will be closed longer than usual for its annual summer maintenance to address mounting facility needs.

The closure will begin on Aug. 27 and continue past Labor Day until Sept. 9, the Fairfax County Park Authority announced on Friday (Aug. 5).

During that period, workers will attend to routine maintenance of the swimming pool’s whitecoat plaster as well as other improvements to the Annandale facility, which is the county’s oldest rec center.

“We understand closures can be very disruptive, but Audrey Moore needs some serious attention right now,” Cindy Walsh, director of the FCPA’s Park Services Division, said. “We ask for your patience as we work to make this facility cleaner, healthier and more attractive.”

According to the news release, the extended closure will enable workers to address maintenance “aimed at improving customer service in the short-term” without exposing visitors to paint and other chemicals.

The planned improvements include:

  • Carpet replacement on the second level
  • Main hallway drywall repair and painting and lighting upgrades.
  • Remodeling the family changing room, including new tiles.
  • Door replacement at pool entrance.
  • LED lighting upgrades in some locker rooms and hallways.
  • Basketball court flooring repairs.
  • Remodeling the pottery studio (painting/drywall repair, sink and counter replacements, floor replacement).
  • Fitness center ceiling and lighting upgrades.

Staff will also take care of a number of custodial tasks, such as:

  • Cleaning all tables and chairs, mats and other equipment after heavy summer camp use.
  • Scrubbing tile grout lines, cleaning heating, ventilation and air conditioning ceiling vents to improve airflow and appearance, etc.
  • Replacing stained ceiling tiles in areas that are not scheduled for full replacement.
  • Touch up and/or paint door frames.
  • Schedule carpet cleaning in office/front desk area that would be difficult to do while open.
  • Stain picnic tables on sundeck. Replace boards as necessary.
  • Remove mineral deposits and polish metal and chrome fixtures throughout building.

Park authority spokesperson Judith Pedersen confirmed that the upcoming maintenance work is separate from the county’s pending plan to renovate and expand the Audrey Moore Rec Center.

The county was slated to unveil concept design options for that project this spring and hold a community meeting this summer, but the process has been slightly delayed.

“We do not anticipate [the renovation] project to begin until after the next bond cycle — pending passage, of course,” Pedersen said by email. “This is later than expected due to scheduling in coordination with other County capital projects, as well as supply chain and market pressures that have raised the cost of other capital projects and essentially have a ripple effect on the Park Authority’s capital program.”

Pedersen says design work will resume “once our cashflow situation is more clearly defined.”

The county’s last parks bonds were approved by voters in 2020 and included a portion of funding for the Audrey Moore project. The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved a change during the most recent budget process that shifted most bonds from every four years to a six-year cycle.

As a result, the next parks bond referendum won’t go on the ballot until 2026, according to Pedersen.

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Elaine Tang, co-owner of Annandale’s A&J Restaurant, admits she was surprised when her restaurant won a RAMMY for “Best Brunch of the Year” last weekend.

“We were kinda shocked when we won the award,” Tang told FFXnow. “We’ve been in this area for many years, so we have a lot of repeat customers. And I think they love this style of food.”

The Taiwanese-Northern Chinese dim sum restaurant, which has locations in Rockville, Maryland, and on Markham Street in Annandale, was the only eatery with ties to Fairfax County to win a RAMMY this year. All in all, five restaurants with county ties were nominated.

Since 1982, the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) has handed out awards (RAMMYs) to D.C. area restaurants for various categories at their annual awards gala.

This year’s rendition took place on Sunday (July 24), when A&J Restaurant took home the “Best Brunch” award.

The breakfast menu is only available on weekends and consists of traditional northern Chinese and Taiwanese morning fare like sticky rice rolls, morning biscuits, flaky scallion pastry, and salty soybean milk. The rest of the menu — items like pan-fried pork dumplings, homemade noodles, and crisp cabbage — is also available during the weekend brunch.

The family-owned restaurant began in Taiwan in the 1970s, when Tang’s uncle opened a restaurant in the capital city of Taipei. Then, the family took it to Los Angeles before expanding to the D.C. area in the 1990s.

Today, Tang heads up both the Rockville restaurant, which opened in 1996, and the Annandale location, which began serving in 2000.

This isn’t the first local accolade that A&J has received. The restaurant is often listed by Washingtonian Magazine and The Washington Post as one of the top dim sum restaurants in the area.

Tang says it took some time for the community to find A&J, but once they did, it has become a favorite.

“It was first mostly Asian people, but gradually more Western people discovered us,” she said. “They like our food and now keep coming back.”

She says it can be pretty hard to find restaurants serving this type of breakfast in the area and is happy to be not only one of the few, but also one of the best.

Tang’s niece Elaine, who helps run the Los Angeles restaurant, concurs that the team was “quite surprised” with the win.

“It is nice to see the Restaurant Association widen their scope and look to restaurants such as ours to be included in this year’s nominees,” Elaine wrote in an email to FFXnow. “We have been working hard for decades now to make a good and consistent product that people continue to come back for.”

As was the case for many local restaurants, A&J was hit hard by the pandemic, but they have survived so far and are now doing “okay,” Tang says.

There are no current plans to expand A&J in Fairfax County. The mission is, simply, to keep doing what they’ve been doing for the last 26 years in Annandale.

“We welcome everyone to our restaurant to try and see if they’ll like it,” Tang said. “I’m sure they will really like it.”

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Police leave the Fairfax County Courthouse (file photo)

(Updated at 5:40 p.m.) A Fairfax man who once served as a youth leader at the Saint Matthews United Methodist Church in Annandale has been arrested for multiple alleged sexual assaults of a teenager, the Fairfax County Police Department said today (Thursday).

Thomas Weaver, 61, was arrested yesterday (Wednesday) and has been charged with five counts of indecent liberties of a minor by a custodian as well as 20 counts of possession of child pornography, the FCPD announced.

According to police, Weaver led youth activities at Saint Matthews periodically since joining the church at 8617 Little River Turnpike in 2001, but he hasn’t held that leadership position since 2020, when the assaults allegedly occurred.

“On multiple occasions since 2020, Weaver coerced the victim to meet him in a secluded area in Annandale,” the FCPD said. “Once there, Weaver sexually assaulted the victim.”

Per the news release, police were alerted to the assaults last month by a family member of the victim. Fairfax County detectives deployed a search warrant for Weaver’s residence yesterday and found “numerous images of child pornography,” leading to his arrest.

“Saint Matthews United Methodist Church has been fully cooperating with the police on this matter,” police said. “The church also notified the Fairfax County Child Protective Services with concerns about Weaver.”

The church contacted CPS about Weaver about 10 days ago, according to St. Matthews spokesperson Paul Steidler, who sent a statement to FFXnow:

St. Matthew’s UMC is saddened and deeply troubled by this event. Our fervent prayers and heartfelt concerns go out to those directly impacted by the situation and for whom this is a troubling, triggering event.

St Matthew’s UMC is fully cooperating with law enforcement on this important matter. We urge anyone who may be able to aid law enforcement on this case, or who knows of any inappropriate actions towards children, to immediately contact law enforcement.

St. Matthew’s UMC has rigorous child protection policies and is completely committed to having a safe and secure environment for all children.

The FCPD says detectives haven’t identified Weaver’s previous sites of employment yet, but they believe there could be additional victims, since he might have worked as a youth leader at other churches in the past.

The department asks anyone with information about the case, including if they or their child could be a victim, to call its Major Crimes Bureau at 703-246-7800, option 3. Tips can also be sent anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone (1-866-411-TIPS) and online.

Weaver is currently being held at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center without bond.

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Morning Notes

A popsicle melts at Capital One Center’s The Perch in Tysons (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Dog Dies in Newington Townhouse Fire — Unattended cooking started a fire at a townhouse in the 6700 block of Red Bird Woods Court last Friday (July 15) that displaced one resident and caused approximately $93,750 in damages. County firefighters found a dog while searching the property that was given medical care but didn’t survive. [FCFRD]

Fairfax Nonprofit Helps Rescued Beagles — The Fairfax-based animal rescue group Homeward Trails is one of several shelters across the country helping the Humane Society find homes for beagles rescued from a Cumberland breeding facility. The nonprofit will place 1,500 of the dogs and has already received almost 1,000 adoption applications. [Washingtonian]

New Mental Health Crisis Hotline Available — “A new 9-8-8 crisis and support hotline is now active across the United States, including here in Fairfax County…Dialing either 9-8-8 or the existing [National Suicide Prevention Lifeline] number, 1-800-273-TALK (8255), will connect you to behavioral health care and support 24 hours a day.” [Fairfax County Government]

GW Parkway Rehab Could Bring Traffic Cameras — “WTOP has learned that an upcoming major rehabilitation of the George Washington Parkway’s northern section will lay the groundwork — literally — for live traffic cameras along a 7-mile stretch of the roadway running from the Capital Beltway to Spout Run. Ground was broken for the project on Monday.” [WTOP]

McLean Baseball Player Drafted by New York Mets — “Add one more significant achievement, and likely the best of all, in a season full of big accomplishments and recognitions for Nick Morabito. The McLean resident and 2022 graduate of Gonzaga College High School recently was chosen in the second round (75th pick overall) of the Major League Baseball draft by the New York Mets.” [Sun Gazette]

Great Falls Bank to Expand — “Three-year-old Trustar Bank in Great Falls has raised $18 million in fresh capital and intends to use the proceeds to help fund its expansion across the D.C. region. The private placement…could be a prelude to an eventual initial public offering for the $560 million-asset Trustar.” [Washington Business Journal]

Annandale Park Field Named After Advocate — “In action at their regular meeting on July 13, 2022, the Fairfax County Park Authority Board voted to name rectangular field 6 at Pine Ridge Park in honor of Wanda Rixon at the request of the Fairfax Women’s Soccer Association (FWSA)…FWSA and Rixon played an instrumental role in the effort to retain Pine Ridge Park as permanent park land.” [FCPA]

DMV Stops by Tysons Library Tomorrow — “Looking to renew your license, get the real ID and more? The DMV is visiting the Tysons-Pimmit Library. Registration is required and an appointment can be made here. Please note the DMV takes a lunch break from 12:30pm-1:30pm.” [FCPL]

It’s Thursday — Humid and partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 89 and low of 78. Sunrise at 6:02 am and sunset at 8:31 pm. [Weather.gov]

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The Justice Department logo (via DOJ)

A Fairfax man was sentenced to 52 months in jail yesterday (Tuesday) for conspiring to distribute drugs through the darknet in a conspiracy that extended to other Fairfax County residents.

Tyler Pham, 39, conspired to distribute peach tablets through the U.S. mail that were advertised as Adderall but actually contained methamphetamine, according to a U.S Department of Justice press release. Six other individuals previously entered guilty pleas in connection with the conspiracy and were sentenced to over 13 years in prison combined.

The co-conspirators lived in other parts of the county, including Springfield and Annandale, as well as in Alexandria.

Pham was sentenced for conspiring to distribute between 15 and 45 kilograms of the pills from about May 2019 through December 2019, according to the press release. Pham used the moniker “addy4cheap” on darknet markets, the Empire Market and Cryptonia.

Law enforcement agents purchased 767 tablets, weighing about 268 grams total, from “addy4cheap” between August 2019 and December 2019.

On Dec. 9, 2019, search warrants were executed at Pham and his co-conspirators’ residences, including the homes of Lien Kim Thi Phan, 37, of Fairfax, and Hon Lam Luk, 35, of Chantilly.

In the home of Phan and Pham, agents found 95 peach tablets, and in Luk’s residence, investigators found over 6,000 peach tablets weighing approximately 2.2 kilograms, all of which resembled those advertised on “addy4cheap” and those received by law enforcement through controlled purchases.

As of Dec. 10, 2019, “addy4cheap” had completed 3,665 sales on the Empire Market and received 2,568 reviews. Based on these reviews, “addy4cheap” had received approximately $482,572.10 in sales for an approximate 44,872 pills sold. As of Nov. 7, 2019, “addy4cheap” had fulfilled 140 transactions on Cryptonia.

Pham’s other co-conspirators were listed as Phan and Duong Nguyen, 29, of Springfield; Son Nguyen, 36, of Annandale; Dat Nguyen, 37 of Alexandria; and Trieu Hoang, 39, of Springfield.

The FBI’s Washington Field Office’s Hi-Tech Opioid Task Force, which includes local and federal agencies and members, conducted the investigation.

“The task force is charged with identifying and investigating the most egregious Dark Web marketplaces, and the vendors operating on the marketplaces who are engaged in the illegal acquisition and distribution of controlled substances, to include fentanyl, methamphetamine, and other opioids,” the release said.

The full release is below.

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