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Police closed northbound I-495 at Little River Turnpike after a shooting incident on Sunday (via VDOT/Twitter)

Police are still looking for a driver who fired multiple gunshots at other vehicles on the Capital Beltway (I-495) in the Annandale area on Sunday (March 19).

The shooting was preceded by “aggressive driving behaviors” by occupants of a Mercedes and a silver Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck that were traveling north on I-495 shortly after 5 p.m. that day, according to the Virginia State Police.

“Words and gestures were exchanged between the two vehicles,” the VSP said in a news release today (Friday). “As the two vehicles passed under the Route 236 overpass on I-495, the front seat passenger in the Mercedes fired multiple rounds at the Silverado. The Mercedes then continued north on I-495.”

Mercedes sedan allegedly involved in a March 19 shooting on I-495 (courtesy Virginia State Police)

While the Silverado wasn’t hit, a bullet struck a vehicle headed south in the I-495 Express Lanes. Police confirmed that there were no injuries.

The VSP Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Fairfax Field Office shared a photo that it believes shows the Mercedes driven by the shooter. The photo was taken from a video captured by a driver who isn’t involved in the shooting incident.

“The suspect vehicle has been identified as a matte-finish charcoal gray Mercedes E-Class AMG sedan with a sunroof and tinted windows,” police said.

The VSP hopes to “generate additional leads on the suspect vehicle,” advising anyone who potentially witnessed the shooting and “road rage behaviors,” or who might know the people involved to call 703-803-0026 or email questions@vsp.virginia.gov.

“Anonymous tips are welcome,” police said.

Virginia State Police joined with the Fairfax County Police Department last week for a “Road Shark” campaign intended to step up enforcement and educational efforts to combat aggressive driving.

The initial phase of the campaign lasted one week, from March 13-19, but it’s expected to resume three more times this year.

Image via VDOT/Twitter

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Police line up on Route 7 during an armed robbery pursuit (via @notaveryh/Twitter)

Police took two people into custody yesterday (Thursday) after a reported armed robbery in Great Falls turned into a dizzying pursuit from Tysons to Herndon and back again.

Officers were called to the Safeway at 9881 Georgetown Pike at 12:05 p.m. for a report of a man and a woman stealing merchandise, the Fairfax County Police Department says. The suspects allegedly pointed a gun as they left the store.

According to the initial police dispatch, the individuals took Tide detergent from the store. The vehicle tag was traced to a man with an outstanding felony warrant for robbery in Prince William County.

“The two left in a car with a child in the backseat. Officers saw the car and attempted a traffic stop that resulted a pursuit,” FCPD spokesperson Sgt. Jacob Pearce said.

Per scanner traffic, the chase began on southbound I-495 (Capital Beltway) at Georgetown Pike before exiting to the westbound Dulles Toll Road toward the airport, as officers asked for a helicopter to assist.

After feinting an exit multiple times in the Reston area, the driver turned off at Centreville Road in Herndon and swung back around to the eastbound toll road. The screech of tires can be heard on the police radio.

“Do not PIT the vehicle,” a supervising officer said, referring to a maneuver used by law enforcement to stop moving vehicles. “At most, try to bring the car to a stop slowly. I do not want any reckless driving behavior to endanger the child’s life inside the car.”

The pursuit continued into the Dulles Toll Road’s airport lanes and exited onto Route 7 (Leesburg Pike), where the driver jumped a curb to cross from the eastbound to the westbound lanes.

After turning onto Trap Road, back onto the toll road, and off at Dolley Madison Blvd in McLean, the chase made its way onto the Beltway and finally ended in the northbound lanes near Lewinsville Road, where the driver was arrested.

The woman was also taken into custody, according to the FCPD.

“No injuries were sustained as a result of the incident,” Pearce said. “The child is safe and is currently with caregivers. No crashes were reported during the pursuit. Detectives are actively investigating. The names and charges will be released once charged.”

Close to 40 police vehicles were involved in the chase, including both local and state agencies, according to a tipster who said they followed part of the saga on Route 7 and the Dulles Access Road. At one point, an officer said on the radio that there were “too many vehicles” in the pursuit.

Photo via @notaveryh/Twitter. Hat tip to Alan Henney, Henry Bright and KKirkhart.

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A Virginia State Police vehicle (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

A person in a sedan reportedly fired multiple gunshots at other vehicles on the Capital Beltway (I-495) in the Annandale area yesterday afternoon (Sunday).

The Virginia State Police received a report at 5:10 p.m. of “an individual in a sedan firing several shots at vehicles while traveling north” on the Beltway near the exit to Little River Turnpike, according to a news release.

The gunfire hit one vehicle, but no injuries were reported, police said.

“The northbound travel lanes were temporarily closed so troopers could search for shell casings and any additional evidence related to this incident,” the VSP said.

According to police, the vehicle was seen continuing north on I-495. Traffic was detoured onto a service road for Little River Turnpike for about half an hour as police investigated.

The VSP Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Fairfax Field Office is still investigating the incident.

“Anyone who may have witnessed the shooting and/or have information related to this incident is encouraged to call the Virginia State Police at 703-803-0026 or by email at questions@vsp.virginia.gov,” police said.

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Fairfax County Fire and Rescue crews respond to reports of gunfire at Tysons Corner Center (staff photo by James Cullum)

A prison sentence is pending for the man who fired gunshots in Tysons Corner Center on Father’s Day weekend last summer, triggering a panicked evacuation.

Noah Settles, a 23-year-old D.C. resident also known as the rapper No Savage, pleaded guilty to four felony charges related to the incident, Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano announced today (Thursday).

He will serve at least three years in prison, with a potential maximum sentence of 33 years.

“When I came into office, we promised to take serious crimes seriously,” Descano said in a statement. “I can think of few more serious crimes than this: taking a gun and firing into a crowded, public space, endangering the safety of our community members and visitors, disrupting public life, and threatening their future sense of safety.”

A Fairfax County Circuit Court jury indicted Settles on seven charges in September after he fired three gunshots in one of the D.C. area’s busiest malls on June 18. Stores in Tysons Corner Center were locked down, and visitors reported people screaming and fleeing what they feared was an active shooter.

No one was injured by the gunfire, but three people were taken to the hospital with injuries that occurred during the evacuation, Fairfax County police said at the time.

The Fairfax County Police Department later identified Settles as their suspect, describing the incident as an escalation of a verbal argument between two D.C. “crews.” He turned himself in at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center on June 22.

In a hearing today, where prosecutors showed footage compiled from mall surveillance cameras and bystanders’ phones, Settles pleaded guilty 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, according to Descano’s office.

He had also been charged with felony attempted malicious wounding and two misdemeanors for brandishing a firearm and carrying a concealed weapon.

With the plea, Settles will avoid a trial that had been scheduled to begin Monday (Feb. 13). A sentencing hearing is set for June 23.

“Today’s outcome guarantees accountability for every piece of this incident,” Descano said. “The defendant is pleading guilty to the most serious charges, giving the judge the opportunity to craft a sentence commensurate with seriousness of crime.”

Since the June 18 incident, Tysons Corner Center has been the site of two other gun scares, one of which stemmed from a shattered light fixture and the other related to a jewelry store robbery.

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Giant Food in Vienna (via Google Maps)

A man who allegedly fired a gun during a family dispute in the parking lot of Vienna’s Giant Food has been arrested, the Vienna Police Department announced today (Friday).

Multiple people reported hearing gunshots in the shopping center parking lot near 311 Maple Avenue East on Jan. 8, according to police.

“Officers from the Vienna Police Department responded to the area and after an initial investigation, determined the incident involved a civil dispute between family members, which resulted in one individual discharging a firearm,” the department said in a news release.

One person sustained “minor” injuries as a result of the incident, police said at the time.

After a “lengthy” investigation, detectives obtained arrest warrants for Aria Shahryary on Jan. 31, charging him with felonies for shooting into an occupied vehicle and willful discharge of a firearm in a public place. He also faces a misdemeanor brandishing charge.

Shahryary voluntarily turned himself in at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center yesterday (Thursday), the VPD says.

A judge set a $50,000 secured bond for his release. An arraignment has been scheduled for Wednesday (Feb. 8), and there will be a preliminary hearing in the case on March 30, according to Fairfax County General District Court records.

“The Vienna Police Department would like to thank the witnesses who remained on scene to give statements and the Fairfax County Police Department who assisted in the investigation,” the VPD said.

Photo via Google Maps

Vienna police SUV (via Vienna Police Department/Facebook)

Police from three different jurisdictions are on the lookout for suspects in an armed carjacking reported in Vienna Saturday night (Jan. 28).

An individual told the Town of Vienna Police Department around 10:30 p.m. that their vehicle was rear-ended about half an hour earlier near the intersection of Park Street and Moore Avenue SE, according to a news release published yesterday (Sunday).

The citizen exited their vehicle to make contact with the striking vehicle. The occupants of the striking vehicle exited their vehicle, presented a firearm and demanded the citizen give over control of their vehicle. One suspect entered the victim’s vehicle; the second suspect got back into what was described as a black Dodge Challenger and fled the area. The victim’s cell phone was left in their vehicle, preventing them from calling 911.

No injuries were reported, and the firearms weren’t discharged, according to police.

The Vienna police department says it alerted other jurisdictions to the stolen vehicle, which was ultimately found abandoned in Baltimore. The Baltimore Police Department provided assistance in locating the vehicle.

VPD’s criminal investigations section is now working with D.C. and Baltimore police to try to identify the suspects.

“Vienna Police Department asks for the public’s assistance to locate any eyewitnesses or video of the incident,” the department said. “Please call 703-255-6366 and ask for MPO Juan Vazquez to provide information.”

Photo via Vienna Police Department/Facebook

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A dog believed to be a Staffordshire terrier was found chained up and shot in Mount Vernon (via FCPD)

A dog was chained up and shot this morning in the residential neighborhood behind the Woodlawn Shopping Center in Mount Vernon, police say.

Officers responded to the area of Bedford Terrace and Beekman Place at 3:35 a.m. after getting a call that there was a dog chained to a fence, according to the Fairfax County Police Department. Upon arriving, they discovered the animal had a gunshot wound.

“The chain was immediately removed, and the dog was taken to a nearby veterinarian’s office. The dog remains with the veterinarian receiving further care,” the FCPD said in a news release published this afternoon.

Police later determined that a community member had called earlier in the evening “after hearing a dog barking and a single gunshot,” the department said, adding that officers had searched the area but “did not find anything suspicious.”

The FCPD is now on the lookout for the owner of the dog, which is believed to be an adult, male Staffordshire terrier.

Police are asking residents in the neighborhood to review any surveillance footage they might have from last night. The department’s Animal Protection Police can be contacted at fcpdanimalprotection@fairfaxcounty.gov.

The FCPD also accepts anonymous tips through Crime Solvers by phone (1-866-411-TIPS) and online.

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Giant Food in Vienna (via Google Maps)

(Updated at 1:15 p.m.) An argument between family members escalated into gunshots being fired outside the Giant Food in Vienna on Sunday (Jan. 8), the town police department said yesterday.

Officers responded to a report of gunfire near the grocery store at 359 Maple Avenue East around 3:40 p.m. One person commented on Nextdoor that their wife was leaving the adjacent Michael’s when she got pulled back inside.

“She says she could smell gun smoke when she was able to leave,” the commenter said.

Two people were injured in the incident. While the injuries were considered minor in both cases, one person was transported to a hospital for treatment.

“Further investigation by the criminal investigations section of the Vienna Police Department determined the incident began as a civil dispute between family members,” the VPD said.

Police initially said one person sustained injuries that were “not the result of a firearm.” When asked if that’s still believed to be the case for one or both individuals involved, the department said it had no further the information to share at the moment.

The investigation is still ongoing. Charges will be filed after investigators consult with the Fairfax County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, police said.

“Shooting incidents are rare in the Town of Vienna and citizens should expect a full and complete investigation,” the VPD said today in a release. “The police department has dedicated numerous personnel to the investigation to ensure a thorough examination of the incident.”

The police say anyone with information about the incident can contact (703) 255-7845 or email juan.vazquez@viennava.gov.

Photo via Google Maps

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Virginia State Capitol in Richmond (via Doug Kerr/Flickr)

As the Virginia General Assembly convenes this week for its 2023 session, local lawmakers hope to pass bills highlighting campaign finance reforms, raising teacher pay, paid sick leave, and other issues.

The General Assembly will meet in Richmond on Wednesday (Jan. 11) for a 46-day session lasting until Feb. 25, though special and reconvened sessions later in the year are possible.

Members have been allowed to pre-file bills since November, and Fairfax County’s delegation held a public hearing on Saturday (Jan. 7) where community members shared their thoughts on what should be prioritized.

Members have until Wednesday morning to pre-file bills.

Facing a divided General Assembly, with Republicans controlling the House of Delegates and Democrats holding the Senate, local representatives likely won’t see all of their bills become law, but here are 12 proposals worth noting:

Campaign finance reform

  • Limit political donations to $20,000: Introduced by Sen. Chap Petersen (D-34), SB 803 would prohibit individuals from making a single donation to anyone vying for state office for more than $20,000.
  • Prohibit contributions from public utilities: Also filed by Petersen, SB 804 would prohibit candidates from accepting contributions from any public utility company. Petersen has introduced versions of this bill before but hasn’t succeeded in getting it passed.
  • Prohibit personal use of campaign funds: The potential new law HB 1552, introduced by Del. Marcus Simon (D-53), would ban candidates from using campaign funds for personal use, something that’s already prohibited in many other states.

Education 

  • Alternative learning assessments in schools: SB 819, pre-filed by Sen. Barbara Favola (D-31), aims to allow each local school district “to use any nationally recognized, research-based assessment or screener” as an alternative to Virginia Department of Education-approved tests. This comes after new state-proposed history standards were rejected by the Board of Education in November. Revised draft standards were released Friday (Jan. 6).
  • Higher teacher compensation: Del. Kaye Kory (D-38) is co-introducing HB 1497, which calls for state funding to be used to compensate public school teachers at or above the national average. Currently, the average pay for teachers in Virginia is about $7,000 below the national average.

Gun Control

  • Unattended firearms in motor vehicles: SB 901, introduced by Sen. Dave Marsden (D-37), would make it illegal to leave a firearm unattended in a motor vehicle unless it’s locked up in its own compartment or container.

Health care

  • Prohibit warrants for menstrual health data: SB 852 would prohibit the issuing of warrants for the search and seizure of any device containing digital information related to menstrual health data. Filed by Favola, the bill addresses fears from some that period-tracking apps could be used against someone considering an abortion.
  • Paid sick leave for health care and grocery store workers: Introduced by Sen. Scott Surovell (D-36), SB 886 would require health care and grocery store employers to provide paid sick leave. As noted in the bill, current law only requires paid sick leave for some home health care workers. A version of this bill passed the Senate last year but failed in the House.
  • Treatment for “problem gambling“: With sports gambling now legal in Virginia, Del. Paul Krizek (D-44) is proposing HB 1465, which would establish a committee to help “reduce the negative effects of problem gambling.”

Rights 

  • Bars insurrectionists from holding public official: Del. Dan Helmer (D-40) is introducing HB 1562 to bar those “convicted of participating in an insurrection” from ever holding a position of “public trust.”
  • ASL interpreters in courtrooms: Surovell’s SB 814 lets the court appoint a certified American Sign Language interpreter itself for the courtroom.
  • No arrest for assault on law enforcement in mental health emergency:¬†HB 1561 from Del. Vivian Watts (D-39) exempts individuals from being arrested or prosecuted for assaulting a law enforcement officer if they’re experiencing a mental health emergency. A study done last year showed that about 10% of those charged with assault on law enforcement officers had a history of mental illness.

Transportation 

  • Pedestrian signals apply to bicycles and scooters: Favola’s SB 847 calls for pedestrian control signals to also apply to those riding bicycles, mopeds, electric bikes, scooters, and all other forms of electric motor transportation. A companion bill is being filed by Del. Rip Sullivan (D-48) in the House.

Photo via Doug Kerr/Flickr

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Tysons Corner Center (file photo)

Fairfax County police are investigating a “smash-and-grab” jewelry store robbery at Tysons Corner Center.

The suspect used a hammer to smash display cases at Elite Jewelers, which is on the mall’s first floor near Macy’s, the Fairfax County Police Department reported at 5:53 p.m. on Sunday (Jan. 1).

Police say the suspect was a man wearing a white, hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans. Surveillance footage shared by the department show the man wearing a disposable blue surgical mask and sneakers. In a couple of images, he appears to be talking on a cell phone.

The sound of the cases being smashed evidently prompted another unfounded panic about a shooting at Tysons Corner Center, though the FCPD confirmed that there were no shots fired.

As reported by ABC7, Daily Beast reporter Zachary Petrizzo said “mobs of people began running yelling about a shooter,” adding later that he hid in the mall’s North Face store before evacuating.

Maria Leaf, a reporter for the radio station WMAL DC, said she was getting her nails done when “when all of a sudden there were people running, screaming and what sounded like gunshots.”

“I yelled to my nail tech to shut the doors and turn the lights off,” she said after reporting that the incident sounded like a robbery. “Everyone here was shaken. Mall was packed due to it being a holiday. Supposed to be open till 7.”

Anxiety about the potential for gun violence has been high at the D.C. area’s biggest mall since three shots were fired on June 18, sparking a panicked evacuation that injured three people. D.C. resident Noah Settles was indicted for that incident in September.

A shattering light fixture prompted another evacuation on Aug. 7 after the sound was mistaken for gunshots, and rumors of gunfire spread on social media last month when police chased a trio of men wanted for a robbery in Arlington. Police found a gun on one of the suspects, a teenager, but no shots were fired.

Regarding the jewelry store robbery, the FCPD said this morning that it had no updates to share, but its “detectives continue to investigate and ask for information.”

The department advises anyone with information to contact its non-emergency line at 703-691-2131.

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