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

Neighbors are frustrated by a lack of safety improvements in recent years in Oakton’s Blake Lane corridor, where a driver struck three pedestrians, killing two, earlier this month.

At a virtual community meeting last night (June 23), many people who live on and close to Blake Lane expressed anger at state and county officials for what they describe as inaction despite extensive advocacy efforts. One resident said they’ve been asking for improvements since one particularly bad crash 20 years ago.

“There’s a lot of anger and frustration in our community right now,” said one neighbor. “…There’s anger that we’ve been warning VDOT for years how dangerous this road is, and we’ve gotten a lot of signs but don’t feel like we’ve made much progress other than that. If we don’t address this, more people are going to die. I’m sure of it.”

Hosted by Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik, the meeting saw police, transportation, and schools representatives discuss potential solutions to help make Blake Lane safer near several schools, including Oakton High and Mosaic Elementary.

Vehicle speed, lack of safe pedestrian crossing areas, and educating young drivers are the big concerns that local agencies and residents hope to address.

The 18-year-old driver involved in the fatal June 7 crash was charged with involuntary manslaughter Tuesday (June 21). Police revealed that he was driving 81 miles per hour in a 35-mile-an-hour zone.

There have been 114 crashes on Blake Lane since 2017, according to data presented by the Fairfax County Police Department. Six of them involved pedestrians, and two crashes involved bicyclists. While 31 resulted in injuries, the June 7 crash is the only one that has been fatal.

Just over a quarter — 31 crashes — involved a “young driver,” between the ages of 15 and 20 years old.

Where Blake Lane intersects with Five Oaks Road, where the June 7 crash occurred, there have been 12 total crashes since 2017, including two involving pedestrians and four involving a young driver.

Crash statistics for the Blake Lane at Five Oaks intersection (via Supervisor Dalia Palchik/Facebook)

The county and state officials proposed potential measures but cautioned that many permanent changes are subject to reviews, audits and studies. Read More

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A utility pole appears to be down in a roadway where a crash occurred in Oakton (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

(Updated at 11:45 a.m.) The 18-year-old driver in the Oakton crash that killed two Oakton High School students earlier this month has been indicted.

A grand jury indicted Fairfax resident Usman Shahid on involuntary manslaughter charges Tuesday morning (June 21), Fairfax County Police Department said in a press release. Shahid is expected to turn himself in later today (Thursday), police said. More information on bond will be available then.

The department’s Crash Reconstruction Unit determined that, on June 4, Shahid was driving a 2018 BMW south on Blake Lane at a “high rate of speed” when he struck a 4Runner in the intersection, continued traveling south, and struck three high school students on the sidewalk. The car continued down Blake Lane and struck a utility pole.

Two of the pedestrians died, and the third was seriously injured. Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis said at a press conference that she is now recovering at home.

Shahid and the front passenger of the car were transported to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Two passengers in the rear seats of the BMW fled the scene, police said at the time.

The police investigation suggests that Shahid was driving around 81 mph when his car first hit the 4Runner, Davis said.

Davis said the BMW passengers have been identified. While noting that they shouldn’t have fled the scene, Davis said the passengers have cooperated with the investigation, and police don’t anticipate pressing charges against them.

“This is a tragic incident that could have been avoided, and our hearts break for the families of these two young girls,” Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano said in a news release. “…I am committed to working toward accountability in a manner that promotes healing for the families involved and the wider community.”

Shahid faces two counts of involuntary manslaughter, both felony charges that carry a maximum sentence of 10 years of jail time, according to Descano.

The crash prompted renewed calls for safety improvements on the Blake Lane corridor. A meeting is scheduled for tonight with stakeholders that will be livestreamed to Supervisor Dalia Palchik’s Facebook.

“Slow down, slow down, be a defensive driver,” Davis said. “There’s nothing so important you have to jeopardize your safety and the safety of others by getting some place 30 seconds faster.”

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Fairfax County police cars line up outside Tysons Corner Center (staff photo by James Cullum)

(Updated at 12:30 p.m.) A dispute between two Southeast D.C. “crews” at Tysons Corner Center led up to the gunfire in the mall Saturday, Fairfax County police said.

Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis said Noah Settles, who turned himself into police last night (Wednesday), is associated with the Anacostia-based 37th Street Crew.

Settles, a 22-year-old also known as rapper No Savage, was with a group at the shopping center Saturday before encountering another D.C.-based “crew,” Simple City, Davis said. The former was wearing all black and the latter, all white.

“We’ve heard of these groups before in the National Capital Region,” he said. “They were both present at Tysons over the weekend in a crowded place where a lot of folks were simply going about their daily lives.”

They got into a verbal dispute before it escalated to a pushing and shoving match and Settles displayed a firearm, Davis said. A few minutes passed before Settles shot three rounds in a different location, not more than the length of a football field away from where the initial dispute was, Davis said.

“The shooting sent patrons and employees throughout the mall fleeing for the exits, others sheltered in place, and feared for the worst,” said Lt. Ryan Lazisky, Assistant Commander of the Major Crimes Bureau.

While no one was injured by the gunfire, three shoppers were injured while they attempted to flee and hide after hearing gunshots.

Davis said they have not recovered the firearm, but anticipate in the next few days they will recover the black Cadillac Settles used to flee.

Settles has been charged with attempted malicious wounding, three counts of discharging a weapon into an occupied building, and use of a firearm in commission of a felony. According to online court records, he had an arraignment hearing scheduled this morning, and a preliminary hearing is set for Aug. 15. He is being held with no bond.

Davis said Settles is no stranger to law enforcement in D.C., Prince George’s and, now, Fairfax County.

Police don’t know exactly what caused the initial dispute.

“I can’t speak necessarily, or at least intelligently, about the nature of this conflict other than it’s young men with a lot of anger and other societal issues to contribute to where they are in life that’s not always their fault,” he said. “But they’re armed all too often and, unfortunately, in this particular case and elsewhere, the resorting to firearms to settle a petty dispute is what gets us here today.”

Davis said thankfully Tysons has made a large public safety investment in cameras, which allowed police to capture video of Settles armed with a firearm and also captured the black Cadillac leaving Tysons as well.

He said no other crime scene in his entire career had generated so many personal phone calls to him.

“Because everybody shops, everybody goes to the movies, goes to a restaurant, hangs out at the mall if you’re a teenager,” he said.

People ask him, “is Tysons safe?”

“And the answer is, ‘of course it is,'” he said. “It’s safe today it’s going to be safe tomorrow, it defines life here in the National Capital Region.”

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Fairfax County police car lights (file photo)

A woman stabbed a man after a dispute at a business in Springfield yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon, Fairfax County Police Department said.

The man and the 35-year-old woman got into an argument before she stabbed him and left, police said. A community member found the man in the parking lot with a stab wound to the upper body.

Officers responded to the 6800 block of Commerce Street for the stabbing around 4:34 p.m., police said.

The man was treated for injuries that were later determined not to be life threatening, police told FFXnow.

Detectives obtained a warrant for malicious wounding.

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Morning Notes

Relaxing in Penny Lane Park at the Mosaic District (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

County Police and Fire Training Exercise Today — “#FCFRD is conducting a joint training exercise with Fairfax County Police Department at Fairfax County Government Government Center on Wednesday, June 22, between 9 a.m. -3 p.m. There will be a large fire and police presence in the area during this time. #FCPD Helicopter Fairfax 1 will land/take off during the exercise.” [FCFRD/Facebook]

Rep. Beyer Wins Democratic Primary — Rep. Don Beyer’s bid for reelection remains alive after he won the Democratic nomination for the 8th Congressional District yesterday (Tuesday). Per the Office of Elections, Fairfax County’s turnout reached an estimated 2.5%, as of 3:30 p.m., not including early and absentee voters. [WTOP, Twitter]

Health Aide Under Investigation for Stealing Student Meds — Fairfax County police are investigating a health aide who allegedly took student medications and replaced them with allergy medicine while employed at Greenbriar East Elementary School. The Fairfax County Health Department worker has been placed on administrative leave and could be terminated. [FOX5]

New FCPS Cell Phone Policy Approved — “The policy taking effect in the 2022-2023 school year says students in kindergarten through eighth grade must silence cell phones and put them away for the entire school day. Students in grades nine to 12 must only silence and put away cell phones during classes.” [Patch]

Reduced Charges Possible for Former Freedom Hill ES Workers — “A former teacher and teacher’s aide in Fairfax County, Virginia, accused of abusing non-verbal disabled children entered plea agreements on [June 13] that would result in reduced charges and no jail time.” [NBC4]

Alexandria Man Charged in Springfield Shooting — A 24-year-old Alexandria man got into an argument with the acquaintance in the 2600 block of Redcoat Drive on Sunday (June 19) night around 11 p.m. inside an apartment before police say he shot the person in the upper body and fled. Fairfax County police told FFXnow the victim was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Officers located the suspect, who they identified of Antwan Pratt, and arrested him nearby, charging him with aggravated malicious wounding and the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

Kingstowne House Fire Started by Rags — Two people were displaced on Friday (June 17) by a house fire in the 7800 block of Kincardine Court that caused approximately $90,000 in damages. Investigators determined the blaze started in a first-floor laundry/utility room due to “the improper disposal of rags used for staining wood.” [FCFRD]

Retired Police Dog Dies — “We’re saddened to announce the passing of retired K9 Comak on Saturday. Comak served the Fairfax County community as a patrol dog from 2010 until he retired in 2019. Upon completion of his service, Comak was a beloved member of his handler’s family.” [FCPD/Facebook]

Shared-Use Path Proposed in Centreville — “The Virginia Department of Transportation will hold a virtual design public hearing Monday, June 27 on plans to build a shared-use path along Compton Road (Route 658) to improve bicyclist and pedestrian safety, accessibility and connectivity to the Cub Run Trail system…The project also includes widening the Compton Road bridge over Cub Run to accommodate the new shared-use path.” [VDOT]

McLean HS Runner Wins State Title — “By finishing first in the girls 1,600-meter race in 4:54.92, McLean High School distance runner Thais Rolly was the lone local winner from schools in the Sun Gazette’s coverage area at the recent Virginia High School League’s Class 6 girls and boys outdoor state championship meets.” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]

It’s Wednesday — Rain in the evening and overnight. High of 85 and low of 70. Sunrise at 5:45 am and sunset at 8:39 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Gum Springs celebrates Juneteenth with a Community Day on June 18 (staff photo by Matt Blitz)

Fairfax County Holds Primary Today — It’s primary day for voters in the 8th Congressional District, which now includes McLean, Bailey’s Crossroads, Annandale, and the Route 1 corridor in Fairfax County. With the Republican nominee already set, there is only a Democratic contest between incumbent Rep. Don Beyer and challenger Victoria Virasingh. [Fairfax County Office of Elections]

Man Dies in Oakton Crash — An 18-year-old driver died on Sunday (June 19) after losing control of his car while driving south on Fox Mill Road and hitting a tree near Bronzedale Drive. A juvenile passenger was taken to the hospital with injuries not considered life-threatening. Detectives believe speed was a factor in the crash, which resulted in the fifth non-pedestrian fatality of the year. [FCPD]

Drowned Man Remains Hospitalized — A 29-year-old man who drowned while swimming in Difficult Run Stream in McLean on Sunday is still in life-threatening condition. According to police, the man became submerged and was pulled out of the water by friends when he didn’t resurface. Fire and Rescue personnel found him about a quarter mile away from Georgetown Pike on a nearby trail. [FCPD]

Report Finds Discrimination by Housing Providers — “A fair housing test conducted by The Fairfax County Office of Human Rights, in partnership with The Equal Rights Center, showed ‘discernable differences’ between housing providers’ treatment of white and minority testers. The results also showed that ‘certain housing providers lack the training to provide the same level of treatment to Deaf individuals as they do to hearing individuals.'” [Inside NoVA]

Tysons West Vehicle Pursuit Leads to Arrest — A male juvenile allegedly “verbally threatened the victim” in the 1500 block of Cornerside Blvd on Jun 12. The juvenile attempted to drive away, striking two vehicles, before an officer stopped him using the controversial precision immobilization technique. The juvenile was arrested, and two people were treated for non-life-threatening injuries. [FCPD]

Springfield Trader Joe’s Looking to Move — Trader Joe’s is in talks to take over the roughly 24,000-square-foot Whole Foods Market at Old Keene Mill Shopping Center, suggesting that the new Whole Foods under construction at Springfield Plaza will be a relocation. The space would be larger than Trader Joe’s current 10,673-square-foot store next to the new Giant in Springfield Plaza. [Washington Business Journal]

Bank Plans Relocation From Herndon to Tysons — Part of a larger branding overhaul, Forbright Bank is moving its Herndon branch at 150 Elden Street to 1600 Tysons Blvd., a 13-story office building adjacent to Tysons Galleria. The Herndon location is the company’s only Virginia location among five branches in the region. [Washington Business Journal]

Fairfax County Police Helicopter Appears at Smithsonian Event — “Saturday, our helicopter was on display at the National Air & Space Museum’s Annual Innovations in Flight Event. 50+ aircraft fly in from around the region for this special day. Pilots Mountjoy & Edgerton greeted community members as they got a glimpse into Fairfax 1.” [FCPD/Twitter]

County Partners on Older Adult Activities — “Arlington County, Fairfax County, Prince William County, the Town of Vienna, and ServiceSource Inc. host live virtual programming on Zoom five days a week. The events range from fitness classes to special presentations to interactive games. This resource is free and all older adults and adults with disabilities who live in Northern Virginia are welcome to use it.” [Neighborhood and Community Services]

It’s Tuesday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 81 and low of 68. Sunrise at 5:45 am and sunset at 8:39 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Noah Settles is wanted by police in connection to the Tysons Corner Center shooting (via Fairfax County Police Department)

(Updated at 10:20 p.m.) Fairfax County police are searching for a man they have identified as a suspect in the Tysons Corner Center shooting yesterday (Saturday).

Police say Noah Settles got into a dispute with another group in the mall, displayed a firearm and fired multiple rounds. He fled in a black Cadillac with D.C. tags GK0174. He is considered armed and dangerous, police said. Anyone with information on where he is should call 703-691-2131 or 911.

Settles is a D.C. rapper better known as No Savage. Video posted to YouTube allegedly shows Settles and two men fighting near the Peloton store on the mall’s second level.

No one was injured by the gunfire, but three people were hurt as they tried to flee, police said. Some shoppers hid after hearing the shots. After the building was evacuated, it remained closed the rest of the day and but reopened today (Sunday).

Settles faces charges of attempted malicious wounding, discharging a weapon into an occupied building and use of a firearm in commission of a felony.

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Difficult Run Stream Valley Park sign (via Google Maps)

Updated at 2:30 p.m. on 6/21/2022Sterling resident German Salinas, 29, died today (Tuesday) after drowning in Difficult Run Stream, police announced. 

“The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will conduct an autopsy to determine cause and manner of death,” the Fairfax County Police Department said.

Earlier: A 29-year-old man remains in the hospital after a possible drowning in McLean yesterday (Sunday) evening, the Fairfax County Police Department tweeted.

Police said they responded around 6 p.m. to 8800 block of Georgetown Pike near Difficult Run River. Fairfax County Fire and Rescue personnel found the man a quarter mile off the roadway on a nearby trail, police said.

His injuries were life threatening, police said. The department said today (Monday) that the man remains hospitalized and that they don’t suspect foul play.

“Detectives determined the man was swimming in the stream that connects to the Potomac River,” police said in a news release. “While swimming, he became submerged underwater and did not resurface. Friends pulled him out of the water and attempted life-saving measures.”

Photo via Google Maps

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Fairfax County police car lights (file photo)

(Updated at 3:05 p.m.) An unconscious woman who appears to have been assaulted and seriously injured was discovered at a bus stop in Hybla Valley, Fairfax County police said.

Officers responded to the bus stop near 7849 Richmond Highway around 12:05 a.m. this morning, a tweet from the department said. The woman appeared to have “trauma to the upper body” and was taken to the hospital.

Exactly what happened is unclear, but police say that, preliminarily, the woman does not seem to have been shot.

“Detectives continue to investigate the circumstances that led up to this woman’s injuries,” the Fairfax County Police Department told FFXnow by email.

Police ask anyone with information to call the department’s non-emergency line at 703-691-2131.

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A crash at Blake Lane and Five Oaks Road in Oakton injured five people, including two teens who died (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

The community has had growing concerns about traffic safety in Oakton’s Blake Lane corridor, where two Oakton High School students were killed last week after police say a speeding car struck them on a sidewalk.

Following community meetings about the roadway last year, the state proposed several safety improvements on Blake Lane from Route 123 to Route 29, including vegetation trimming, pedestrian safety, and sign and marking improvements, as well as a speed study and a restricted crossing U-turn.

However, since then, the Virginia Department of Transportation has determined a proposed signal at the intersection with Hibbard Street was not warranted, and that the 35 mph speed limit was appropriate. The speed study indicated that about 85% of all vehicles in free-flowing traffic traveled at or below 43.5 mph, according to the state.

Last year, Fairfax County also implemented an additional $200 fine for speed limit violations on Blake Lane between Jermantown Road and Sutton Road, as part of the Residential Traffic Administration Program.

Citing Blake Lane safety as a priority, Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik said in a newsletter on Friday (June 10) that she’s working with the Board of Supervisors’ chairman, state representatives and the Fairfax County School Board to schedule a community meeting around other short and long-term safety improvements.

“I was devastated when I heard the news of the terrible crash that happened on Tuesday, June 7th at the intersection of Blake Lane and Five Oaks Road, not far from Oakton High School,” she said. “As a new mother and your neighbor, I am heartbroken for the families affected by this tragedy.”

Following the crash, she said the Fairfax County Police Department increased police presence along the corridor and deployed a radar speed sign at the site.

Since 2017, there have been 11 crashes — not including the fatal crash last week — at the intersection of Blake Lane and Five Oaks Road, according to Fairfax County Police Department. Four of the crashes resulted in injuries.

A graphic shows the number of crashes at the intersection of Blake Lane and Five Oaks Road (courtesy Fairfax County Police Department)

When looking at a longer stretch of Blake Lane from Jermantown Road to Route 29, crashes climb to a total of 113, 31 of them resulting in injury.

In addition, 31 crashes along Blake Lane involved what the Department of Motor Vehicles deem a young driver — between the ages of 15 and 20. Five of those crashes resulted in injury, and 26 involved property damage. Read More

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