A West Potomac High School student has been charged with murder in connection to a fatal shooting in October outside a D.C. bar.
Ashton Inabinet, a 16-year-old Hybla Valley resident, was arrested yesterday (Wednesday) and charged with second-degree murder while armed for allegedly shooting and killing 24-year-old D.C. resident Diamonte Lewis on Oct. 21, D.C. U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves announced.
Lewis was celebrating his birthday when the shooting broke out around 3:38 a.m., possibly following a fight, outside Nellie’s Sports Bar at the corner of 9th and U Streets NW, according to news and police reports.
Officers with the Metropolitan Police Department responded to the scene and found Lewis suffering from gunshot wounds, unconscious and unresponsive. He was pronounced dead at 3:50 a.m., leaving behind two children.
According to a police affidavit, Inabinet was identified as one of two people who fired shots that morning through surveillance video footage and an anonymous tip provided on Nov. 14. Both suspects were traced to Virginia schools, and West Potomac’s school resource officer confirmed Inabinet’s identity to detectives based on a “distinctive headband” seen in the surveillance video.
However, the MPD alleges in court documents that, without coordinating with detectives, Fairfax County police and Fairfax County Public Schools officials “essentially tipped off” Inabinet that he was under investigation, giving him time to confiscate evidence.
On Tuesday, November 28, 2023, West Potomac High School ordered Fairfax County Police to go to the defendant’s residence and notify them that the defendant was not allowed to return to school in reference to a D.C. investigation. This information provided the defendant approximately a week to remove evidence from the residence, such as clothing, 9mm semi-automatic pistol and/or 9mm ammunition of the same brand used during the homicide.
In statements first reported by WUSA9, the Fairfax County Police Department and FCPS said Inabinet was banned from school as a safety measure after MPD homicide detectives informed the West Potomac school resource officer on Nov. 28 that they intended to pursue charges against a student.
From the FCPD:
MPD homicide detectives appeared at a Fairfax County high school on Tuesday, November 28, interacted with a School Resource Officer and stated their intention to eventually pursue criminal charges against a Fairfax County high school student for a recent firearm murder in their jurisdiction. MPD detectives had not yet obtained criminal charges. We delivered a letter authored by Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid banning the student, a murder suspect, from school until we received further information. This is a preventive action we own and stand by. The Fairfax County Police Department has a duty and responsibility to protect our students.
Reid says FCPS supports the FCPD’s actions.
“The safety of our schools remains our top priority and we will always act swiftly to protect our students and staff,” Reid said. “We continue to work collaboratively with Fairfax County Police, who are partners in this work, and we are in agreement with their statement.”
Inabinet pleaded not guilty at an arraignment yesterday in D.C. Superior Court. He’s currently in custody at the D.C. Central Detention Facility without bond after a judge “found probable cause that the defendant committed the murder,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office of D.C.
A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for next Wednesday, Dec. 13.
Image via Google Maps. Hat tip to Romeo (@RVANOVA01).
Local police are searching for additional victims after arresting a Falls Church man in connection to two robberies of massage parlors: one that occurred this fall and one from 2021.
Mohamed Tahir, 33, was arrested on Sept. 9 after a reported robbery at Deep Blue Massage (6105 Arlington Blvd) in Seven Corners, the Fairfax County Police Department reported this morning (Friday).
Officers responded to the robbery at 10:52 a.m.
“A man armed with a handgun and taser entered the business, assaulted two employees, and stole money,” the FCPD said. “The two victims were treated for minor injuries at the scene.”
Police identified Tahir as the suspect based on a review of surveillance footage. He was charged with robbery, strangulation and two counts of abduction by force.
According to the FCPD, detectives working on the case realized that Tahir “matched the description and behavior of a suspect in a similar robbery in 2021.”
At 10 p.m. on December 15, 2021, officers responded to a commercial armed robbery at the Blue Therapy Massage, at 5532 Hempstead Way in Springfield. The suspect, armed with a handgun, assaulted and robbed two victims. Through the detective’s investigation, the suspect was not identified.
According to a Fairfax County General District Court clerk, Tahir was released on a $1,000 personal recognizance bond granted by Judge Michael Lindner at a Nov. 17 hearing. The bond came with a condition that he be supervised and that his attorney be contacted if needed to address medical needs he may have been experiencing.
Police arrested Tahir again yesterday (Thursday) morning on new charges of robbery, abduction by force, strangulation and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony in connection to the December 2021 robbery.
He is now being held at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center with no bond, the FCPD said.
A preliminary hearing for the Sept. 9 case has been set for next Tuesday (Dec. 5), while a hearing for the 2021 case will be held on March 4, 2024.
The FCPD says its detectives believe there may be additional victims from both cases.
“Detectives encourage victims to come forward regardless of when a crime may have occurred,” the department said in a news release. “Victims can speak with a Victim Services specialist at 703-246-2141.”
Image via Google Maps
Two hemp businesses and a private citizen are challenging a Virginia law that instituted tougher limits on hemp products in Virginia in federal court, saying the new rules cause financial harm to hemp businesses and interfere in interstate commerce.
The law, which went into effect July 1, set the maximum amount of THC in hemp products at 0.3% concentration and 2 milligrams per package. This cutoff has made hundreds of products placed on shelves before July illegal and subject to fines if sold.
The lawsuit by hemp product retailer Northern Virginia Hemp and Agriculture, hemp customer Rose Lane and North Carolina-based hemp producer and distributor Franny’s Operations argues that if not halted, the law “will cause millions of dollars of irreparable harm” and “cause the Banned Products to be unavailable in the Commonwealth, exacerbating potential health problems to thousands of Virginians.”
The plaintiffs argue that the state’s definition of legal hemp conflicts with the federal definition — cannabis with less than 0.3% of specifically delta-9 THC content. Virginia’s law, in contrast, defines legal hemp products as those with less than 0.3% total THC content, which includes not just the most common delta-9, but also the milder delta-8 strain and all other natural and synthetic isomers combined.
The complaint says this puts state law in direct conflict with federal law, running afoul of the U.S. Constitution’s supremacy clause.
Northern Virginia Hemp and Agriculture said the new law has caused the loss of 90% of its business because nearly all of the products it manufactured and sold prior to July 1 are now banned.
The sale of hemp products “has turned into people’s livelihoods,” said Travis Lane, owner of the business. “This [lawsuit] is just worth a try, you know, like it’s a 50-50 shot for us to win or lose.”
Lane said if the law is not halted, he will be forced to shut his doors before the end of the year. “I feel like it should definitely be regulated, but not regulated to the point where you’re shutting doors of good businesses,” he said.
Jason Amatucci, president of the Virginia Hemp Coalition, which helped find plaintiffs and fundraise for the suit, said Virginia’s stricter limits were supported and lobbied for by medical marijuana companies that saw the hemp industry as a competitive threat. He called it “a double standard” that marijuana is still illegal at the federal level while its use has been legalized in Virginia, but some federally legal hemp products are now banned in the state.
Lawmakers, however, have shown rising concern about the growth of a largely unregulated market in Virginia and associated sharp increases in the hospitalization of minors who have ingested hemp-derived products. Besides the THC limits they imposed, the new law includes packaging security and labeling requirements and imposes escalating fines for non-compliance.
Chloe Smith, a spokesperson for Attorney General Jason Miyares, declined to comment on the pending litigation but reiterated that Miyares “is dedicated to combating the rise of accidental THC poisonings in children, and is concerned about the rise of dangerous, counterfeit THC-infused products marketed towards our vulnerable youth.”
Amatucci, however, said he doesn’t think the law sufficiently targets child safety or counterfeit synthetic products.
“We need education for these things, and we also need smart laws that target exactly what we want to target, but to take a straight sword and cut the industry down like they did was irresponsible,” said Amatucci. “Whether we win the lawsuit or [are] coming back next session, we’re going to have to fix this.”
Complicating Virginia’s law is a carveout for hemp-based CBD products, written after complaints by caregivers of epileptic children who use CBD oil as an anti-seizure treatment, that sets a minimum 25:1 ratio of CBD to THC for products with more than 2 milligrams of THC.
Del. Dawn Adams, D-Richmond, has pointed out that manufacturers will still be able to sell large amounts of THC provided they also include 25 times that amount of CBD. Visitors to NoVa Hemp’s website are greeted with a popup that reads, “All products in Virginia now come with an additional 25:1 ratio of CBD isolate added to the packaging. You will not be disappointed!”
“It’s just like more steps that we have to put into something that we don’t think needs to really happen,” said Lane. “It’s ridiculous.”
The plaintiffs are also challenging a provision of the law prohibiting hemp processors from selling industrial hemp to anyone inside or outside state lines if the seller has reason to believe it will be used in a substance that violates the state’s 0.3% THC limits.
On the federal level, marijuana remains illegal, but the 2018 farm bill removed hemp from a Schedule I controlled substances classification, a category that includes heroin. Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services suggested the Drug Enforcement Agency change marijuana’s classification to a Schedule III drug.
The case will be heard on Sept. 29 by District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema in Alexandria.
The preceding article was reported and first published by the Virginia Mercury
(Updated at 4:30 p.m. on 8/3/2023) The former Fairfax County police officer who reportedly shot and killed D.C. resident Timothy Johnson on Feb. 22 in Tysons lost a court petition seeking reinstatment earlier this month.
Wesley Shifflett’s petition alleging that the county violated his due process rights and its own policies during a grievance review was rejected by Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Stephen Shannon, who affirmed County Executive Bryan Hill’s conclusion that the Fairfax County Police Department had followed proper county procedures.
“The County Executive’s determination was neither arbitrary and capricious, nor made in bad faith,” Shannon wrote in a July 6 opinion letter. “In contrast, the determination was well-grounded in fact and proper.”
(This story has been updated to clarify that the petition was asking the court to review the grievance process, an administrative review that will determine whether Shifflett’s firing should be upheld.)
A seven-year veteran of the department, Shifflett was officially fired by the FCPD on April 14, a couple of weeks after Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis informed both the officer and the public of his decision on March 23, according to court documents.
The FCPD identified Shifflett and James Sadler, an eight-year veteran of the department, as the two officers who fired their guns at Johnson during a foot chase outside Tysons Corner Center. The mall’s Nordstrom had called the police around 6:30 p.m., reporting that Johnson was attempting to shoplift sunglasses.
Video of the encounter shared by police showed the officers pursuing Johnson into a wooded area, where one of them trips and says, “Stop reaching.” Three gunshots were apparently fired, two before the officer tripped and one afterwards.
(An earlier version of this article incorrectly said that all three shots were fired after the officer tripped.)
Police said Shifflett was responsible for the fatal shots, the Washington Post previously reported. Sadler was put on modified restrictive duty during a criminal investigation into the shooting, but he retained his job.
In a pair of memos to Shifflett dated March 23 and 30, Davis said his “performance during this incident and personal conduct…have failed to meet the expected standards required for continued employment” with the FCPD.
Shifflett made “shifting and inconsistent statements” during interviews with Major Crimes Bureau and internal affairs detectives that left it unclear whether he fired his gun intentionally “in response to a perceived threat” or by accident, Davis wrote in the March 30 memo.
“Your demonstrated inability to definitively state whether or not you meant to intentionally fired [sic] your weapon at Mr. Johnson that evening diminishes your credibility in this case, and accordingly undermines your ability to be a law enforcement officer,” Davis said. “Therefore, looking at the totality of the circumstances in this case, I no longer have confidence in your abilities to serve and protect the Fairfax County community as an FCPD officer.”
In a petition filed in court on May 30, Shifflett argued that Davis didn’t sufficiently explain the reasons for his termination and that the subsequent grievance process challenging the decision had “procedural deficiencies.” Read More
(Updated at 2:10 p.m.) Construction on the widening of the Capital Beltway (I-495) can continue while a lawsuit filed by McLean residents works its way through the court system, a federal judge ruled this morning (Friday).
The Northern Virginia Citizens Association had urged U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema to issue a preliminary injunction against the project that would halt all work until further environmental analysis is conducted.
The ruling, which came after a 10 a.m. hearing at the district court in Alexandria, gave an initial victory to federal and state transportation officials and express lanes operator Transurban, who have argued that the additional review sought by residents is unnecessary.
“We remain confident that this project is in compliance of all environmental regulations and associated requirements and approvals, Transurban Director of Corporate Affairs and Marketing Tanya Sheres said in a statement to FFXnow. “Alongside our project partners, we continue to focus on minimizing impacts to communities as we work to deliver the expanded travel choices, environmental enhancements, and improved safety that the more than 230,000 daily travelers of this corridor are relying upon.”
Filed on March 16, the NOVA Citizens Association’s complaint detailed health and environmental impacts of construction on the I-495 Northern Extension (495 NEXT) project, which is adding 2.5 miles of express lanes from the Dulles Toll Road in Tysons past the George Washington Memorial Parkway in McLean.
The Federal Highway Administration approved an environmental assessment for the project in 2021, finding that it would not have a significant impact and allowing it to proceed.
However, the NOVA Citizens Association says that subsequent design changes to stormwater facilities and ramps at the GW Parkway interchange should’ve necessitated another review with an opportunity for public input.
“Defendants’ activities will irreparably damage Plaintiff’s neighborhood and the surrounding human and natural environment in violation of federal law,” lawyers for the association wrote in a memo on their injunction request. “The Project’s adverse effects already vastly exceed the scope of what the Virginia Department of Transportation (“VDOT”) submitted and the Federal Highway Administration (“FHWA”) approved.”
In declarations opposing an injunction, VDOT and FHWA officials argue that the changes to the GW Parkway design reduced its impact on nearby residential properties and were accounted for in a Interchange Justification Report Addendum approved by FHWA on Jan. 14, 2022.
“The revised configuration of the GWMP interchange lessened the overall impacts of the Project by eliminating conflicts with large utility transmission towers and reducing the need for right-of-way acquisition,” VDOT Northern Virginia Megaprojects Director Susan Shaw said.
According to Shaw, a relocation of ponds by the GW Parkway interchange improved stormwater management, including avoiding work adjacent to the Potomac River, and the changes stayed within the scope established by the completed environmental assessment.
A one-year delay of construction on 495 NEXT, which broke ground in March 2022, would cost VDOT an additional $16.4 million in management and oversight costs, Shaw estimated. If the delay goes into a second year, another $17.2 million would be added to that bill.
“If the Project is enjoined, the current work would need to be suspended in its current condition, with accommodations as needed to ensure the safety of the traveling public,” Shaw wrote. “This would require the lane closures, concrete barriers, temporary environmental controls, to remain in place with all the traffic congestion and disruption those active work zone features create. The duration of construction impacts would be extended, such as noise, dust, traffic delays, and lack of full shoulders.”
Construction on 495 NEXT is currently projected to continue into 2026, with the new express lanes set to open later in 2025.
A status hearing has been set for Monday, April 3, a spokesperson for Fairfax County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office told FFXnow.
The hearing comes after the owners of the gastropub in the Town of Herndon slammed Descano and his office, claiming that they’re pursuing a plea deal against defendant De’Quinn Le’Charn Hall, 29. Hall allegedly fired a gun at the gastropub in November 2021. No injuries were reported.
“We were PROMISED by STEVE DESCANO himself that he WOULD NOT ALLOW THE PLEA DEAL TO GO THROUGH. HE PROMISED — Why are we still shocked that HE LIED?!” Sully’s Pour House said in one Facebook post.
Laura Birnbaum, spokesperson for the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney, said that no update on a plea bargain has been discussed.
“There hasn’t been any movement in this case since December or any updated discussion of a plea,” Birnbaum told FFXnow.
The confusion was caused by a clerical error in the court schedule, which mistakenly tagged the case with the label of “plea,” she said.
Birnbaum said there no other substantial developments to share about the case.
In December of last year, the restaurant’s owners voiced frustration with the overall handling of the case by prosecutors.
Photo via Google Maps
In response to calls for additional legal assistance, Fairfax County is poised to establish a self-help resource center in the library of its courthouse complex.
At a Fairfax County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday (March 21), the board approved a board matter that would allocate $96,000 in fiscal year 2024 to support the project. The board matter was proposed by Franconia District Supervisor Rodney Lusk and Chairman Jeff McKay.
Reportedly the first of its kind in the state, the center would provide legal information, referrals, forms and resource materials on topics related to court issues. The board matter states that it would serve as an alternative option for people who can’t afford legal services and don’t have pro bono help available.
“In my District, we have had constituents contact my office desperate for legal differential last hey are unable to obtain legal aid services. In one instance, a child custody case, the parents had no idea what to expect at their court hearing and thus were not able to prepare for or understand the court process,” Lusk said in the board matter.
First pitched by the Fairfax Bar Association, which runs the law library, the proposal is being led by Fairfax County General District Court judges Susan Stoney and Dipti Pidkiti-Smith.
A 2019 study by the bar association found that the cost of hiring an attorney and the belief that cases can be handled alone are among the top reasons litigants didn’t have a lawyer.
“Access to justice for self-representative litigants is a significant issue facing the legal community today,” the board matter said.
Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity noted that the challenge is not limited to “Black and brown communities.”
Responding to Herrity, McKay emphasized that the board matter specifically refers to economically challenged residents and other communities who are most in need.
He said that statement was “absolutely factual” and “all encompassing.”
A newly awarded grant will help the Fairfax County Circuit Court preserve some historical records dating back to the 18th century, including one map that laid out the battlefield in a small legal war between the county and Alexandria City.
The 4-foot-long, 3-foot-tall Alexandria Annexation Map was impossible to fully photograph in its entirety because of its rough shape, but restoration work should help clear it up, said Heather Bollinger, the historic records manager at the Fairfax County Historic Records Center.
Billinger said the unique map shows many of the Black communities throughout the West End, some of which date back to the aftermath of the Civil War. Some were scattered by racist city policies, like the Ford Ward community, which was converted into a park in the 1960s with little regard for where bodies were buried on the site.
“It was a snapshot of the 1950s,” Billinger said. “You can see where there were smaller communities setting up new neighborhoods, a lot of African American communities.”
Billinger said the maps are a testament to the communities that are now lost to history.
“The map itself is fascinating,” Billinger said. “What’s most interesting about it is: it’s a snapshot in time. What we see on this map is several communities owned by African Americans, like Dowden Terrace.”
Billinger said the maps of that area look very different today.
“Now, that area of Fairfax and Alexandria is heavily developed,” Billinger said. “This is what it looked like before that westward expansion. We don’t have many maps that show that westward expansion. The post-World War II major population explosion was just starting to happen…If you were to do an overlay of the map now, it doesn’t look anything like it did.”
The map came to the forefront of a legal fight in 1951 when Alexandria filed a lawsuit to annex the West End from Fairfax County, citing a need for extra territory and being in a better position to offer utilities to West End residents.
Billinger said similar lawsuits were the common method of sorting out issues of annexation and ceding territory. There was a similar case when the City of Fairfax sought autonomy from Fairfax County. Most of it comes down to who is in a better position to provide utility coverage, Billinger said.
The Fairfax County Circuit Court was awarded a grant for $22,419.50 that will also be used to preserve records related to deeds and land taxes.
In addition to being physically housed at the Historic Fairfax Courthouse, the records will be made available digitally through the circuit court’s online Court Public Access Network, a subscriber-based database that has records dating back to 1742.
Joshua Danehower, 33, faces felony charges for murder and the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, the Office of the Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney announced today.
Fairfax City police found Glyer shot to death in his Bolton Village Court home on June 24, 2022. They were called to the house by Glyer’s wife, who was home at the time with their two children, according to NBC4.
Glyer was 32 when he was killed. It was the city’s first homicide since 2008, police said at the time.
Danehower was arrested at Dulles International Airport five days later. Police identified him as an acquaintance of the family — possibly through their church — though court documents indicated that he was an ex-boyfriend of Glyer’s wife and had been seeking to “reconnect” with her, FOX5 reported.
According to the commonwealth’s attorney’s office, detectives said at a preliminary hearing that they identified Danehower as the suspect “through analysis of the bullet casings found on the scene.”
“My office takes violent crimes like these very seriously, and we are grateful to Dets. Trey Lightly and Matthew Greene for their excellent work on this case in pursuit of justice for the victim’s family and the community,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano said in a statement.
Glyer founded DonorSee in 2016, inspired by his time living in Malawi, where he helped start the Girls Shine Christian Academy, according to the nonprofit’s website. The platform supports donations to charity projects and nonprofits, raising $6 million for nearly 14,000 different projects.
The trial date for the case will be determined tomorrow (Thursday), according to Descano’s office.
Danehower is being represented by the Fairfax County Office of the Public Defender, which told FFXnow that it has no comment.
Photo via DonorSee/YouTube
(Updated at 4:50 p.m.) A man from Miami, Florida, pleaded guilty today to assaulting a flight attendant and interfering with the crew on a plane that was headed to Dulles International Airport in October, federal prosecutors announced.
Cherruy Loghan Sevilla, 24, exhibited “erratic and disruptive behavior” during a United Airlines flight from Miami to Dulles on Oct. 4, at one point preventing a flight attendant from getting to her jump seat and groping her, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia said.
From the news release:
About an hour into the flight, Sevilla began to exhibit disruptive and erratic behavior, including wandering around the plane, running up and down the aisle, clapping loudly near the cockpit, and yelling obscenities. Sevilla refused to remain seated and laid on the floor in the aisle of the plane, preventing a flight attendant from walking up the aisle to her jump seat to prepare for landing. Suddenly, the defendant jumped up and lunged at this flight attendant, grabbing and twisting her right breast. A passenger, another flight attendant, and an onboard law enforcement officer attempted to pull the defendant off and subdue him. The defendant resisted and, in the struggle, twisted the arm of the second flight attendant.
As USA Today reported in October, the man told agents at the FBI office in Dulles that he took psilocybin — a psychedelic drug also known as “magic mushrooms” — before boarding the plane in Miami, according to an affidavit.
“This was not the first time Sevilla had consumed Psilocybin, and Sevilla said that he was not totally surprised he acted this way after consuming it,” an FBI agent wrote in the affidavit. “Sevilla stated that he was sorry for his actions.”
Sevilla has been scheduled for a sentencing hearing on April 21. He could face up to 20 years in prison, though federal crimes are typically sentenced for lower than the maximum penalties, according to the Department of Justice.
Though incidents have declined since March 2022, last year still had 823 reports of unruly passengers — the second-most recorded by the Federal Aviation Administration, behind only the 1,099 incidents reported in 2021.
Photo via John McArthur/Unsplash