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

Another person in custody at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center has died.

Latasha Dove, a 53-year-old woman, was found unresponsive in her cell at the jail on Tuesday (Aug. 1) afternoon, the Fairfax County Police Department reported yesterday (Wednesday).

According to the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office, the post deputy called in a medical emergency at 2:27 p.m. Scanner traffic on Open MHz indicates that an Emergency Medical Services team from the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department was dispatched for a cardiac arrest around 2:31 p.m.

“The deputy immediately rendered aid until relieved by ADC medical personnel. Rescue arrived and transported the inmate to the hospital,” the sheriff’s office said in a news release.

Dove was declared dead at the hospital at 3:13 p.m., according to the sheriff’s office.

Dove’s death is now being investigated by the FCPD, as required by county policy.

According to the police and court records, Dove was arrested on July 26 and faced charges of simple assault and property destruction. The assault charge was a misdemeanor, while the destruction of property charge was a class 6 felony, meaning the value of the destroyed property was over $1,000.

Dove remained in custody at the jail after Fairfax County General District Court Judge Mark Simmons set a cash bond for her at a bond hearing on Monday (July 31).

“The judge decided that she was an appropriate candidate for bail yet set a cash bond knowing that she was indigent,” said Fairfax County Public Defender Dawn Butorac, whose office represented Dove. “That means that Judge Simmons found that she was neither a danger to the community nor a risk of flight. It was simply Ms. Dove’s poverty that kept her in jail instead of being in the community. This is a clear demonstration of the perversity of a cash bail system.”

Though Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano has had a policy against seeking cash bail since March 2020, prosecutors objected to the possibility that Dove could be released at the bond hearing, Butorac told FFXnow.

The Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney didn’t immediately return a request for comment. The office recommends defendants be released in 59% of non-violent felony cases, as of March, according to a bond data dashboard launched last fall.

According to the FCPD, foul play isn’t suspected in Dove’s death, but the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will conduct an autopsy to determine an official cause.

Listed in court records as a Los Angeles, California, resident, Dove is the second person to die while in custody at the Adult Detention Center this summer, following 51-year-old Todd Matthew Gleason’s death on July 4. The jail had three in-custody deaths in 2022.

Before the police department announced its investigation, the sheriff’s office published a news release yesterday about a deputy and nurse’s successful efforts to save an inmate who had overdosed on opioids on July 29.

Police say Brandon Wims was shot multiple times while in a car at the Old Mill Gardens apartments in Mount Vernon (via Google Maps)

A Mount Vernon man will be tried for murder after allegedly shooting and killing Brandon Wims outside the Old Mill Gardens apartments in October.

A grand jury indicted 43-year-old Kyjuan Trott-McLean today (Monday) for murder and three weapons charges, according to Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano.

“The death of Brandon Wims is a tragedy,” Descano said in a statement. “I want to thank our Fairfax County Police for their dedication to this case and the policework that led to the arrest of the defendant.”

Trott-McLean was arrested on Dec. 1, 2022, almost two months after Fairfax County police identified him as their suspect in Wims’s fatal shooting.

According to the Fairfax County Police Department, Wims was shot multiple times around 7 a.m. on Oct. 2, 2022 while sitting in a car with two other people in the 5800 block of St Gregorys Lane.

The driver took Wims to Inova Fairfax Hospital, where he died, while the vehicle’s two other occupants were treated for non-life-threatening injuries, police said at the time.

The FCPD said a preliminary investigation suggested that Trott-McLean had approached the car on foot and fired into the vehicle after an “altercation.” He left the scene in a silver Nissan Maxima.

Police advertised a $11,000 reward for Trott-McLean before he was arrested in the 3800 block of Colonial Avenue near Woodley Hills Elementary School following a brief vehicle pursuit.

In addition to the murder charge, Trott-McLean has been charged with using a firearm in commission of a felony, possessing a firearm as a felon, and concealing a firearm as a felon.

A court date for the case will be set on Thursday (July 20), according to Descano’s office.

Photo via Google Maps

Police cars lined up outside Tysons Corner Center when it was evacuated on June 18, 2022 for gunshots (staff photo by James Cullum)

The man who fired multiple gunshots in Tysons Corner Center last summer has been sentenced to three years in prison, Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano announced today (Friday).

Noah Settles, a 23-year-old D.C. resident and rapper with the stage name No Savage, pleaded guilty on Feb. 9 to three counts of maliciously discharging a firearm in an occupied building and one count of using a firearm in the commission of a felony.

A Fairfax County Circuit Court judge also gave Settles 10 years of probation and barred him from returning to Tysons Corner Center, according to Descano’s office.

“Today, the justice system has shown that perpetrators of gun violence will be held accountable for their actions,” Descano said. “Firing a gun into a public space is a serious crime, one that endangered our community members and threatened their future sense of safety. In cases like these, it is the prosecutor’s job to ensure accountability and use the tools at our disposal to prevent this sort of dangerous incident from happening again.”

Settles sparked a panic at Tysons Corner Center on June 18, 2022 when he fired three gunshots during a busy Father’s Day weekend, according to police and prosecutors. No one was struck by the bullets, but three people were reportedly injured during the chaotic evacuation of the mall.

The Fairfax County Police Department later identified Settles as the man who had fired the shots, describing the incident as the escalation of an argument between two “crews” based in southeast D.C.

“During court hearings, video footage from mall surveillance cameras and bystanders’ phone show Settles getting into an altercation with another group of young people, fleeing briefly, then turning back to fire three shots by a mall kiosk,” Descano’s office said.

Settles was indicted by a grand jury on seven charges, but charges of attempted malicious wounding, brandishing a firearm and carrying a concealed weapon were dropped as part of the plea agreement.

Three years of jail time was the minimum sentence possible under his guilty plea. The maximum was 33 years.


Fairfax County’s General Assembly delegation will look drastically different next year after a pivotal Democratic primary yesterday (Tuesday) that also bolstered incumbents in most county-level races.

In two upsets, Sully District school board representative Stella Pekarsky eked out a win over veteran state Sen. George Barker for the 36th District nomination, while Fairfax Young Democrats vice president Saddam Azlan Salim ousted Sen. Chap Petersen in the 37th District.

Currently in her first term on the Fairfax County School Board after getting elected in 2019, Pekarsky received 52.2% of the vote — just 662 more votes than Barker, according to unofficial results from the Virginia Department of Elections.

First elected in 2007, Barker was pursuing a fifth term in the state Senate. Encompassing Chantilly, Centreville and Clifton, the 36th District was created by the Virginia Supreme Court during the 2021 redistricting process and includes just a portion of Barker’s former 39th District.

In a statement, Pekarsky thanked Barker “for a hard fought campaign on the issues.”

“Our constituents benefited from the conversation and I look forward to uniting behind our shared vision of standing up for Democratic values,” she said. “I am running to stand up for public education, protect abortion access, keep our community safe from gun violence, and build a brighter future for the next generation. I look forward to sharing that message with every voter in the district leading up to November’s election.”

Pekarsky will face Republican nominee Julie Perry, a history teacher, in the general election on Nov. 7.

In the 37th District, which covers Tysons, Fairfax City, Vienna, Oakton, Falls Church and Merrifield, Salim beat Petersen by 999 votes, or 53.8%. He campaigned as a progressive alternative to the more conservative Petersen, challenging the incumbent on issues like gun violence prevention and reproductive rights.

“This was an incredible grassroots movement of constituents all across the district and we achieved this victory together,” Salim said in a statement. “I look forward to being your Democratic nominee and continuing our fight for the issues that we care about: gun violence prevention, affordable housing, reproductive rights and so much more.”

If he wins in November, when he will face Republican nominee Ken Reid, Salim will become the first Bangladeshi-American elected to Virginia’s state Senate, according to his campaign.

First elected to the House of Delegates in 2001 before moving to the Senate in 2008, Petersen presented himself as a business-friendly, “common sense” candidate. In a statement to supporters, he admitted “the results last night were not what we expected but that happens in a democracy,” congratulating Salim on earning the nomination.

“My term in office and my season in politics is coming to a close,” Petersen said. “I want to thank everyone who helped me in any way along this long and winding journey, especially over the last six months. We ran a positive campaign for re-election based on my past record as a Senator. It didn’t work this time and I bear all responsibility.”

Notably, Petersen and Barker both significantly outraised their challengers, reporting over $1 million each in campaign contributions, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. In comparison, Salim raised just $188,653, and Pekarsky got a total of $639,435.

The Democratic nominees in the other General Assembly races on the primary ballot are:

Read More

Voters fill out ballots in the 2023 Democratic primary at Cunningham Park Elementary School (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

(Updated at 1 a.m. on 6/21/2023) The Fairfax County Democratic Committee has congratulated incumbent Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano as its nominee in one of the most closely watched races in the 2023 Democratic primary.

Descano received about 55.4% of the vote over challenger Ed Nuttall, who ended with 44.6% after shrinking a larger early deficit, according to the Virginia Department of Elections’ unofficial results.

With 75% of the vote, Sheriff Stacey Kincaid has been congratulated by the FCDC as its nominee, putting her on track for a third full term. The county’s first female sheriff, she faced a challenge by former D.C. police officer and Herndon High School football coach Kelvin Garcia.

Incumbents Jeff McKay and Dan Storck also snagged nominations, respectively, for the chair and Mount Vernon District seats on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

In the Dranesville District, the FCDC has declared its former Democratic committee chair, Jimmy Bierman, as its nominee to succeed longtime Supervisor John Foust, who is retiring after this year. Bierman bested McLean Citizens Association board member David R. Fiske with about 70% of the vote.

The Mason District supervisor race — the most crowded local contest on the ballot — is leaning toward Mason District Planning Commissioner Andres Jimenez, who has just 134 more votes than the next-highest candidate, local business owner Reid Voss.

Vying for the chance to challenge incumbent Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity, the board’s only Republican, tech entrepreneur Albert Vega has 55% of the vote so far compared to 44.9% for Fairfax County firefighter John Nowadly.

Looking at the Virginia General Assembly, some upsets may be in store for the 36th and 37th Senate Districts.

In the 36th District, Sully District school board representative Stella Pekarsky currently has just a 394-vote lead over George Barker, who has served in the state Senate since 2008 but was one of several local senators affected by redistricting in 2021.

In the 37th District, challenger Saddam Azlan Salim has a 592-vote lead over incumbent Chap Petersen, who has represented the Vienna and Fairfax City area for 16 years. Salim campaigned as “progressive” alternative to Petersen, who sometimes deviates from the party line and joined forces with Kincaid and Nuttall as a “common sense team.”

Incumbent state Sen. Dave Marsden is poised to win in the 35th District, while one-time gubernatorial Jennifer Carroll Foy looks likely to beat former lieutenant governor candidate Hala Ayala for the Senate District 33 nomination.

In a four-way race to succeed longtime Del. Ken Plum for the 7th House District, at-large Fairfax County School Board member Karen Keys-Gamarra is ahead with 36.5% of the vote, followed in order by Air Force veteran Shyamali Roy Hauth, teacher Paul Berry and systems engineer Mary Barthelson.

Retiring after 44 years in office, Plum endorsed Keys-Gamarra as his successor earlier this year, stating that she “reflects the progressive Democratic values I have always represented.”

Finally, Springfield District school board representative Laura Jane Cohen has been declared the nominee for the 15th House District after securing 68% of the vote.

“When I decided to run for the House of Delegates I promised that I would stand up to Governor Youngkin and the far right to defend public education, reproductive freedom, voting rights, our environment, and the progress we’ve made on gun violence prevention,” Cohen said in a message to supporters. “I maintain that promise, and am honored that the people of the 15th district have chosen me to be their Democratic nominee.”

Fairfax County Courthouse (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Life in prison awaits the man responsible for the 2016 killings of 22-year-old Springfield residents Kedest Simeneh and Henok Yohannes.

Alexandria resident Yohannes Nessibu, 29, was sentenced to life in prison today (Friday) after being convicted of first-degree murder and manslaughter for shooting the couple during a drug deal, Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano announced.

Nessibu was convicted on Aug. 31 of murdering Simeneh, a charge that resulted in the life sentence. He was also given a 10-year prison sentence for voluntary manslaughter in Yohannes’s death, for which he was convicted in March.

An additional 8-year sentence was handed down for two charges of using a firearm in commission of a felony. All of the sentences were the “maximum penalty for each of the charges,” according to Descano’s office.

“The families of Kedest and Henok have faced a great tragedy with the loss of their children and siblings at a young age,” Descano said in a statement. “Their trauma has only been exacerbated by the unusual length of this case, which progressed for seven years due to the need for international extradition, separate trials, and the pandemic.”

According to prosecutors, a group that included Nessibu and Simeneh went to Yohannes’s home in Springfield on the night of Dec. 22, 2016 to buy marijuana.

Prosecutors showed during trial that after a dispute over payment, Nessibu shot Yohannes twice in the back of the head, killing him. He then fled the scene with the same group and shot Kedest Simeneh later that night, leaving her body outside a Burke residence. Evading investigators, Nessibu flew to Ethiopia the next morning, where he remained until he was extradited in 2019.

A Fairfax County grand jury indicted Nessibu in March 2017, but police weren’t able to get custody of him until May 3, 2019.

Simeneh and Yohannes were dating at the time of their deaths and both attended Northern Virginia Community College. A health care worker, Simeneh was described by her family as “quick to give hugs, funny and generous,” while Yohannes had been “a soccer star” at West Springfield High School and aspired to open his own business, the Washington Post reported in 2017.

Descano called Nessibu’s sentencing today “a just outcome for the community.”

“Now that this case has come to a close, I hope that the families are able to begin the path towards healing,” he said.

Early voting is underway at the Providence Community Center (file photo)

(Updated at 12:25 p.m.) Tuesday could be among the most consequential days in recent Fairfax County election history.

Tuesday, June 20 is primary election day, though early voting began in early May. While the general election is set for November, the county is overwhelmingly Democratic, so the candidates who win the primaries will be favored this fall.

With five Board of Supervisors seats, Commonwealth’s Attorney, sheriff, and a number of Virginia General Assembly seats on Tuesday’s ballot, the primary could set the course for the county for years to come.

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors 

While five supervisor seats are on the primary ballot, the two open seats are getting the most attention.

Last August, Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust announced he won’t run for reelection this year, opening the door for two candidates who have emerged to take his place. Jimmy Bierman formerly chaired the Dranesville District Democratic Committee, and David Fiske is on the McLean Citizens Association board. In March, Foust endorsed Bierman for the seat.

Late last year, longtime Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross also said she will retire. Now, four candidates are vying for the vacant seat. They include Congressional staffer Jeremy Allen, Mason District Planning Commissioner Andres Jimenez, local business owner Steve Lee, and local business owner Reid Voss.

Jimenez is currently considered the frontrunner for the seat, winning a straw poll by Fairfax County Democratic Committee straw poll in March. His endorsements include actor Jane Fonda, whose political action committee also weighed in on three local General Assembly races yesterday (Thursday).

However, Voss supporters have accused him of being absent from his duties on the planning commission.

In other races, Board Chairman Jeff McKay is facing a primary challenge from retired CIA staffer Lisa Downing, while incumbent Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck is on the ballot against grassroots leader Martiza Zermeno.

In addition, two candidates are seeking the Democratic nomination to take on Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity in November. Herrity, the board’s only current Republican, doesn’t have a primary challenger.

County firefighter John Nowadly has a number of notable endorsements, including from McKay, Rep. Gerry Connolly and several local state senators. Local tech entrepreneur Albert Vega is endorsed by Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano, who is facing his own challenge on Tuesday.

Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney and Sheriff

The primary race between Descano and prosecutor-turned-defense attorney challenger Ed Nuttall for the Commonwealth’s Attorney may be the most hotly contested on this year’s ballot.

Since announcing his candidacy back in February, Nuttall has criticized how Descano manages the office as well as not appropriately supporting victims of crimes. During a joint appearance on the WAMU show The Politics Hour, Descano accused his opponent of associating with “MAGA, antisemitic conspiracy theorists,” while Nuttall responded by calling the incumbent “incompetent” and a “liar.”

The Washington Post has endorsed Nuttall, while Descano has endorsements from Connelly, Rep. Don Beyer, former governor Terry McAuliffe, and five county supervisors, per his website. He also has the support of musician John Legend.

Another notable race on the ballot is for Fairfax County sheriff, where former D.C. police officer and current Herndon High School football coach Kelvin Garcia is challenging Stacey Kincaid, the county’s first female sheriff. Read More

The new red flag orders dashboard as of 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 14 (via Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney)

Fairfax County residents will now be able to access some data related to local temporary gun removal cases.

On June 13 (Tuesday), Fairfax County Commonwealth Attorney Steve Descano released to the public a continuously updated digital dashboard that tracks ongoing and past Emergency Substantial Risk Orders — known more commonly as Red Flag Orders — as well as view demographic breakdowns of those subjected to ESROs by race, gender and age.

Instituted in 2020, Virginia’s red flag law gives the Fairfax County Police Department and Commonwealth’s Attorney the authority to temporarily remove a gun or guns from someone’s possession if they have probable cause that the individual poses a ‘substantial risk’ to themselves or others.

When contacted by community or family members seeking to initiate a red flag order under a civil order, law enforcement will begin an independent investigation to determine whether one is appropriate.

If an order is granted, individuals are barred from purchasing, possessing or transporting any firearms for up to 14 days with opportunities for extension.

Fairfax County is the only jurisdiction in the state with a team dedicated to red flag orders, Descano told FFXNow by email. The county is the source of 75% of red flag orders in Virginia, he said when announcing the new dashboard.

The dashboard is intended to improve public communications and demystify the court processes for the general public, similar to one on bond decisions that the prosecutor’s office launched last year.

“We wanted this dashboard to bring transparency and awareness to the community about this law and that it can be a tool that saves lives,” Descano wrote. “By showing that it is being used, I hope Fairfax residents will know that if they have a dangerous situation, they can pick up the phone and get help.”

In addition to allowing community members to be more knowledgable about Virginia’s red flag law, the dashboard aims to be a useful tool for prosecutors in guiding their work.

“The other important role of the dashboard is how it informs my prosecutors’ decision-making,” Descano wrote. “We’re using this internally to track cases and make sure nothing falls through the cracks, and that’s a key piece of our day-to-day work on these cases. We have about nine months of data now that we’re working with, and as we get more data on Red Flag Orders, we’ll be able to identify trends that may help us and law enforcement further protect the community and handle these cases.”

The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office has opened 108 red flag cases since May 2022, 92% of them against men, according to the dashboard.

The data will expand over time as Descano’s office works to incorporate more and varied trends and demographics into the board, Public Information Officer Laura Birnbaum says.

“There’s a lot more in this story to tell about how these orders are coming to the police, who’s initiating them, who are the respondents and what kind of situations are we seeing these these orders come out. There’s more data and more trends to pull apart,” Birnbaum said. “…Are there times of year where we see more of these and others? What does that help inform us about other ways we could do gun violence prevention work?”

Fairfax County Courthouse (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

A Fairfax County judge has revoked the bond for one of the four people who allegedly stole from Nordstrom Rack and led police on a vehicle chase in Tysons last week.

The man allegedly behind the wheel during the pursuit, which involved collisions with multiple police cruisers, was initially granted a $5,000 personal recognizance bond by the Fairfax County General District Court on Thursday (June 8).

However, Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Christine Leary agreed with prosecutors on Friday (June 9) that the man — a 24-year-old D.C. resident — could present a danger to the community if released.

“Given the allegations, the court has concerns about the safety of the community if this defendant is released,” Leary said before revoking the bond as requested by the Office of the Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney.

The man has been charged with grand larceny, conspiracy to commit grand larceny, stealing property with the intent to sell it, eluding police and two counts of assault on law enforcement.

According to the Fairfax County Police Department, officers with its Tysons Urban Team were called to Nordstrom Rack at 8027 Leesburg Pike for a reported larceny around 1:25 p.m. on June 6.

Upon seeing the officers, three men and a woman ran to a parked vehicle and drove away, hitting three FCPD cruisers in the process, police said. The individuals bailed out of the vehicle around 1:30 p.m. but were all eventually taken into custody.

About $1,690 worth of merchandise was stolen from Nordstrom Rack, Fairfax County Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Kaitlin Morgan told the court on Friday.

Though the FCPD previously said that a gun was found in the vehicle, a defense attorney representing the alleged driver said an officer indicated the firearm was actually on the woman when police recovered it.

The woman, an Alexandria resident, has been charged with carrying a concealed weapon in addition to grand larceny, property theft and fleeing law enforcement, according to court records. She and the other two men — both D.C. residents — were all released after arraignments on Wednesday (June 7).

Arguing that the bond should be kept in place, the defense lawyer questioned the prosecution’s allegation that his client was driving the car during the pursuit.

“There’s an allegation that my client was driving, but I’ve not been provided proof,” he said, telling Leary that the man has no history of failing to appear and there’s no indication violence was intended.

Morgan countered that, while the man’s past criminal history mostly involved theft charges, the use of a vehicle to ram police cruisers represented an “escalation” that posed “significant danger” to officers and other community members in the area.

She said the man was also seen “joking with his accomplices” about “spanking the police” in reference to the chase.

“Thankfully, no one was injured that day,” Morgan said.

Preliminary hearings for all four defendants in the case have been scheduled for Aug. 7.

The Fairfax County Courthouse (file photo)

A 21-year-old man has been sentenced to serve two years in prison for a fatal shooting at the Vienna Park apartments that the judge described as “a parent’s worst nightmare.”

What began as an intoxicated hangout between friends ended in tragedy when Vienna resident Andrew Gordiyenko shot 21-year-old Matthew Chadwick on June 10, 2021, according to defense attorney Erik Jurgensen’s recounting of the incident at a sentencing hearing on Friday (June 9).

Chadwick died at a hospital the following day, Vienna police reported.

Gordiyenko was arrested on March 14, 2022 and pleaded guilty on Jan. 31 to involuntary manslaughter and reckless discharge of a firearm. A felony charge of unlawful firing in an occupied dwelling had already been dismissed at a Sept. 12 preliminary hearing, per court records.

Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Christie Leary sentenced Gordiyenko to five years of incarceration, suspending three of them, followed by two years of active probation. She admitted to struggling with how to balance the need to hold Gordiyenko accountable and the awareness that he didn’t intend to kill his friend.

“All I see is heartbreak,” Leary said, looking out at a courtroom with both Gordiyenko’s parents and Chadwick’s family and supporters. “…What this sentence boils down to is punishment only. I think he’s going to punish himself far worse than I ever could.”

Under the plea agreement, Gordiyenko faced a potential sentence of six to 36 months. At the request of Chadwick’s family, Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Jenna Sands called for him to get the maximum term, while Jurgensen argued for a period on the lower end of that range.

“The Gordiyenko family will feel devastation, but it cannot equal the devastation” felt by the Chadwick family, Sands said, advocating for a sentence in line with the wishes of Chadwick’s family to give them “some small amount of control.”

Chadwick’s family declined to comment on the sentencing.

Vienna police officers were dispatched to the 100 block of Patrick St. SE in the early morning hours of June 10, 2021. Upon arriving, they found Chadwick inside an apartment with a gunshot wound to the head, according to the department’s news release.

Video submitted to the court showed Gordiyenko, Chadwick and a third person who was the apartment’s resident all handling the gun while under the influence of drugs and alcohol, Jurgensen said, acknowledging that it was “reckless behavior.”

“This case seems to have layer upon layer of sadness,” he said. “We have two young people that were friends, and one is gone and the other is responsible.”

The gun belonged to the third, unidentified person in the apartment. It was a “ghost gun,” a firearm with no serial number that can be assembled from a kit, according to the Office of the Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney.

Because ghost guns are technically purchased in parts, they’re not subject to background checks, and the lack of a serial number makes them difficult to trace. In Virginia, it’s not illegal to own a gun without a serial number — but it is a crime to be caught removing it, the commonwealth’s attorney’s office says.

Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano has advocated for stricter laws on ghost guns, but a bill that would criminalize sales, transfers and purchases died in a Virginia House of Delegates public safety subcommittee on Feb. 22.

“Matthew Chadwick’s death is the result of a tragic incident that didn’t need to end this way,” Descano said in a statement. “When ghost gun manufacturers use loopholes to evade even the most basic gun control laws, they enable access to deadly weapons. All too often, I see how the proliferation of guns in the hands of young people results in unnecessary harm and death.”

The Department of Justice implemented a policy last year that added ghost gun kits to the definition of firearms, requiring manufacturers to be subject to the same licensing and background check regulations as makers of traditional guns.


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