First Case of Monkeypox Hits Northern Virginia — “A Northern Virginia woman likely has monkeypox, the Virginia Dept. of Health announced today.” [ARLnow]
Man Settles Lawsuit with FCPD — “An unarmed Black man who was shocked with a stun gun wielded by a white Fairfax County police officer in June 2020 has reached a settlement in a federal civil rights lawsuit, WTOP has learned.” [WTOP]
Closing Arguments Begin in Celebrity Case — After six weeks of the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard defamation trial causing some commotion at the county courthouse, it’s set to come to a close soon. Both sides rested their case on Thursday afternoon, and closing arguments are set to begin today. [WJLA]
Virginia Chamber Orchestra Performing at Botanical Gardens — The VCO is holding weekend concerts at the Korean Bell Garden at the Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Wolf Trap. The next performance is this Sunday (May 29) from 3-4 p.m. [VCO]
Local Teacher Helps Ukraine — “A teacher from Fairfax County, Virginia, is back from a trip to Poland, where she helped feed refugees who were fleeing Ukraine. Meredith Hedrick, who teaches English as a second language at Annandale High School, took a 10-day trip to participate in humanitarian relief efforts at the busiest border crossing between Poland and Ukraine, which includes vehicle, foot and train traffic.” [WTOP]
Vienna to be Featured on WETA — Vienna will be featured in an episode of “If You Lived Here” on WETA, spotlighting the town. The show is expected to air early next year. [Town of Vienna/Facebook]
FCPD Frees Turtle Stuck Under Tire — Fairfax County police tweeted a photo of an animal protection officer holding what appears to be a “smiling” snapping turtle that was rescued from under a car tire and freed. [FCPD/Twitter]
It’s Friday — Rain throughout the day. High of 70 and low of 65. Sunrise at 5:49 am and sunset at 8:26 pm. [Weather.gov]
Thefts of auto parts and items inside cars have surged this year.
Last year, Fairfax County police found 1,019 incidents involved larcenies of vehicle parts and theft of personal property inside autos.
Just in the first three months of this year, there have been a total of 1,325 incidents, Fairfax County Police Department told FFXnow on Thursday (March 31).
In response to the uptick in thefts, the police have partnered with the auto repair shop G&C Tire and Auto Service to provide free anti-theft labels, Sully District Supervisor Kathy Sullivan said in a March 30 tweet.
On Saturday (April 9) and May 15, the Chantilly-based shop will install free labels for catalytic converters to track the true owner of the part. It includes a unique code and the URL of a database of owners.
“It will break into pieces if an attempt is made to remove them,” the business says in the Facebook post for the event. “In addition, a fluid that etches into metal is applied to the labels so that even if they are removed, the code and URL will remain clearly readable.”
In a Jan. 28 video, FCPD Second Lt. James Curry described one overnight incident on Jan. 5 where catalytic converters were removed from vehicles from a dealership, resulting in a chase.
“Catalytic converter thefts are common in the early morning hours, and often occur in parking lots where cars are stored overnight or apartment complexes that allow for easy access to thieves,” Curry said.
Police encourage community members to park in well-lit areas and contact their homeowners’ association or property manager if lights are not working properly.
“Always remove valuables, to include car keys, from vehicles and lock your cars,” police told FFXnow. “If you see anything suspicious, please call 911 or our non-emergency number, 703-691-2131.”
Authorities also advise people to hide valuables and not store firearms, garage door openers, or house keys in vehicles.
County resident Desiree Donaldson and her family live next to a school, but sometimes their dogs will bark for no reason. After one incident, her husband checked outside and learned about attempted break-ins.
On March 28, she found that sunglasses were stolen from her car. She posted about the incident on the social media site Nextdoor, urging community members to lock their doors.
“I have a neighbor, that lives about a minute or so away from me and she caught this on camera,” Donaldson told FFXnow. “The same thing happened to her, but her cars were locked and nothing was stolen.”
That resident, Lynn Green, has posted videos of incidents on March 5 and 22 captured by her Ring camera. The first time, her vehicle was accidentally left unlocked. The second video showed two people going to vehicles and trying to open doors of vehicles in the neighborhood.
“I have been walking my [neighborhood] and sharing what happened with anyone who is outside,” Green said in an email. “It is amazing how many people are unaware of what is happening.”
The U.S. Postal Service is offering up to $50,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of two suspects following an armed robbery of a mail carrier in Groveton.
The incident occurred around 11:35 a.m. in the 6800 block of Deer Run Drive on March 7. According to the Fairfax County Police Department, a man approached a USPS employee, displayed a knife and “demanded property.”
A resident who appeared to talk with police said on a Nextdoor post suggested that mailbox keys were stolen. Michael Martel, a U.S. Postal Inspector Service spokesperson, didn’t address questions regarding details of the incident.
“The US Postal Inspection Service is working closely with our partners at the Fairfax County Police Department to investigate this incident,” Martel said in an email to FFXnow.
In another incident just minutes earlier in the 6000 block of Sandlin Court, a man approached another USPS employee and implied he had a weapon, police said.
The worker ran away without giving up any property. Authorities listed that incident as an attempted robbery.
“We believe the two incidents…are related, involving the same subjects,” Martel wrote, a belief that detectives also share.
The suspects were described as wearing black hooded sweatshirts and ski masks and were last seen fleeing east on North Kings Highway in the direction of I-495, USPS said.
They allegedly fled in a four-door, black sedan believed to be a 2015-2017 Hyundai Sonata.
The pair was described as 5 foot 7 inches to 5 foot 9 inches in height with thin builds and aged 18-25 and should be considered armed and dangerous, according to USPS.
People with information are encouraged to contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 1-877-876-2455, say “law enforcement” on the audio prompt and reference case no. 3687960.
Brenda Dreesbach, president of the Deer Run Crossing Homeowners’ Association said yesterday (Tuesday) that the association has notified the neighborhood and suggested that all members of the community check their mailbox on a regular basis.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the USPS has changed locks for residents’ mailboxes. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service declined to answer various questions, citing the ongoing nature of the investigation.
Trucker Convoys Could Affect Capital Beltway — Traffic on the Capital Beltway could become clogged in the coming weeks as truck drivers plan to descend on D.C. to protest Covid-related health rules. One convoy reportedly left Scranton, Pennsylvania, yesterday (Wednesday), but the organizer has backed off plans to shut down the Beltway. [NBC4]
Police Union Unhappy with Proposed Budget — The Virginia Police Benevolent Association Fairfax County Chapter president criticized the proposed county budget for not giving officers 15% raises, saying this could worsen vacancies. Board Chairman Jeff McKay countered that the plan presented on Tuesday (Feb. 22) increases the average police pay by 8%. [ABC7]
Peloton Closes Franconia Warehouse — The New York-based exercise equipment company has shut down its operations in Fleet Industrial Park at 6304 Gravel Avenue, affecting 81 employees, according to a notice filed with the Virginia Employment Commission on Feb. 8. [Washington Business Journal]
Ad for Next FCPS Superintendent Ready — “This week, our superintendent recruitment consultant finalized the outline of what the FCPS community is looking for in the next superintendent based on feedback from families and staff. You can read the qualities in a recently released advertisement.” [FCPS]
Herndon Seeks Applicants for Diversity Committee — The Town of Herndon is now looking for applicants to fill 11 seats on its newly created Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. The group will recommend policies and activities to foster diversity as well as ways to address concerns of minority residents and businesses. [Town of Herndon]
Vienna Issues Bonds for Capital Projects — The Vienna Town Council issued $12.5 million in general obligation public improvement bonds on Tuesday (Feb. 22) that will be used to fund sidewalk, paving, parks, and water infrastructure projects. Work on those projects could begin as soon as the winning bid is closed on March 8. [Town of Vienna]
How Chantilly School Is Using Covid Relief Funds — “Rocky Run [Middle School] educators reviewed standardized testing data, teacher recommendations and work samples to decide which students to target for services and materials funded by the federal money.” [FCPS]
Fairfax County police identified the man killed in a shooting in Centreville on Monday night (Feb. 21) as a 37-year-old Leesburg resident.
Police officers responded around 10 p.m. to a townhouse in the 14800 block of Bodley Square in the London Towne area and found Amaru Amin Shabazz inside the home with multiple gunshot wounds, the department said in a news release. He was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.
Shabazz was visiting the home when an altercation occurred between him and others, which resulted in the shooting, police said. Detectives found multiple guns at the scene and determined numerous rounds were fired inside.
A witness told police a man ran from the residence after the gunshots.
Detectives ask anyone with information to call 703-246-7800, and hit option 2. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone – 1-866-411-TIPS (866-411-8477), by text – Type “FCCS” plus tip to 847411, and on the Crime Solvers website.
— Fairfax County Police (@FairfaxCountyPD) February 23, 2022
Photo via FCPD/Twitter
Reston appears to have become a frequent destination for vehicle part thefts.
The Reston District Station has seen a record 16 thefts of auto parts this year alone, according to the Fairfax County Police Department. Last year, the station reported just two incidents.
Police believe that the target appears to be cars parked in residential areas overnight. Officials note that removing car parts like catalytic converters, wheels, and tires — three apparently sought-after parts in Reston — can take several hours.
“We recognized these incidents have commonalities and continue to explore if they are connected,” a FCPD spokesperson told FFXnow.
FCPD says it continues to investigate these cases and has not ruled out any possibilities. No other information was immediately available.
The department is encouraging residents to use the following measures to reduce the chances of becoming a target:
- Keep your vehicle locked at all times
- Remove all valuables from the vehicle
- Install anti-theft devices
- Park in well-lit areas
- Report suspicious activity in your neighborhood
In January, FCPD also issued a community message on YouTube to educate residents about the issue.
Earlier this year, three men were seen on cameras attempting to steal catalytic converters from a dealership in Springfield.
Police apprehended the men after a high-speed chase. Two of the three men were arrested.
Photo via Jaye Haych/Unsplash
A woman injured in a vehicle crash in Reston earlier this month has died, Fairfax County police announced today (Tuesday).
The crash occurred on Baron Cameron Avenue near the North Village Road intersection around 10:45 a.m. on Feb. 3, shutting down the avenue’s eastbound lanes.
Identified as 86-year-old Huamin Xuan, the woman was crossing Baron Cameron Avenue from north to south prior to the intersection, which has no crosswalk, when the driver of a 2003 Toyota Prius headed east on Baron Cameron hit her, according to the police report.
Xuan was transported to a hospital but succumbed to her injuries on Feb. 16.
“The driver of the Toyota remained at the scene,” the FCPD said. “Speed and alcohol are not factors in the crash.”
Police say that anyone with additional information related to the crash can contact the Crash Reconstruction Unit at 703-280-0543.
Xuan is the third pedestrian killed in a traffic crash in the county so far this year, outpacing the two fatalities reported at this point in 2021.
Photo via Google Maps
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors expressed solidarity with the local Jewish community today (Tuesday) after dozens of anti-Semitic flyers were found in a Wolf Trap neighborhood over the weekend.
Reiterating a statement released on social media yesterday (Monday), Chairman Jeff McKay characterized the flyers as a backlash to the county’s embrace of religious diversity during the board’s meeting this morning.
“It’s not by accident that sadly Fairfax County is targeted by this hateful propaganda, because we are proud in our county to have the largest Jewish congregation in Virginia,” McKay said.
The flyers were reported by a community member who found one in a plastic bag weighed down with corn kernels on his property, according to police.
The FCPD said it has increased patrols in the neighborhood, which is on the south side of Route 7 near the McLean Bible Church. It is also working with the Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington to raise awareness.
Calling the perpetrators “despicable people,” Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust advised community members to contact the police if they have any information about the flyers, especially surveillance video that may have captured their distribution.
FCPD Organized Crime and Intelligence Bureau detectives can be contacted at 703-802-2750. Tips are accepted anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone at 1-866-411-TIPS (866-411-8477), text (type “FCCS” plus tip to 847411), and online.
Detectives are still working to determine where the flyers came from, and it’s unclear so far why the Wolf Trap neighborhood was targeted, FCPD spokesperson Sgt. Ian Yost told FFXnow.
Fairfax County is one of several communities across the country hit by anti-Semitic flyers this past weekend, from Bowie, Maryland to California’s Bay Area, Colorado, Texas, and the University of Illinois.
Yost says Fairfax County detectives are collaborating with regional and local partners to see if there are any commonalities across the reported incidents.
McKay noted this morning that Fairfax County has seen these “scare tactics” before. Just last summer, flyers attributed to Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan were discovered in the Springfield and Sully areas, specifically targeting members of the county’s school board.
Anti-Black hate crimes and incidents tend to be the most prevalent in Fairfax County, according to police data, but there were also 22 anti-Jewish incidents reported between 2018 and 2020.
These acts won’t be tolerated and strengthen the county as people stand in solidarity with the Jewish community and all religions, McKay said.
David Taube contributed to this report. Photo via FCPD/Facebook.
(Updated at 12 p.m.) Police are investigating a stabbing after a man was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries.
Fairfax County Police Department spokesperson Tara Gerhard said the man was attacked outside last night in Annandale. The call came in around 10:08 p.m. yesterday (Wednesday), and police responded to the area of Daniels Avenue and Mangalore Drive.
The victim was taken to the hospital where he’s recovering. He reported being robbed.
“As always, we ask the public to remain vigilant of their surroundings and to report any suspicious persons and activities,” Sgt. Jason Chandler said in a statement.
Gerhard said police were canvassing for surveillance footage last night.
— Fairfax County Police (@FairfaxCountyPD) January 27, 2022
Anyone who has information regarding the incident is asked to call detectives at 703-246-7800, option 5.
Photo via Google Maps
Fairfax County saw six more homicides in 2021 than in the previous year, the Fairfax County Police Department says, citing an unusually high number of adult children killing parents and other family members.
According to the department’s annual crime summary, Fairfax County police recorded 21 homicides last year compared to 15 in 2020.
Homicide detectives solved 16 of the 21 murders, but continue to pursue leads in the unsolved cases. That gives the FCPD a clearance rate of 76.2%, exceeding the national average of 61.4%. It was the first year since 2010 the county saw more than 20 homicides, according to FBI data.
Reston saw three homicides in 2021, including one in which a 24-year-old man was charged with second-degree murder after his father was found dead with stab wounds. A fatal shooting at an apartment complex on Winterthur Court in March remains unsolved.
In September, police arrested and charged a man with killing his father and burying him in the backyard of his house in the Culmore area. Police have not yet made an arrest in the killing of a 73-year-old man who was shot while using in ATM on Annandale Road.
Overall crime fell by 9.6% compared to 2020, driven by reductions in several categories:
- Robbery fell by 1%
- Domestic assaults fell by 4%
- Burglary fell by 11%
- Auto theft fell by 8%
- Larcenies from automobiles fell by 17%
“The national rise in violence touched every major urban center in 2021, including Fairfax County,” said Police Chief Kevin Davis, who is approaching one year on the job in May. “Despite this, we remain one of the safest jurisdictions of our size in the country because our patrol officers, detectives and professional staff work tirelessly for our victims and their families. As we look ahead, FCPD will continue to engage with our community on the important work of public safety.”
Last year, the FCPD implemented a program that requires all officers to patrol communities on foot for at least 30 minutes each shift, in the hopes they’ll interact with residents and business owners in areas where dispatchers receive the highest call volume.
The department also launched a tool that uses surveys linked to QR codes to solicit feedback from community members, and added trainings for use of force and peer intervention.
In 2022, the department plans to update its policy to require releasing body camera and in-vehicle camera footage for incidents involving police within 30 days. The policy is moving through a final approval process, the police department said.