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]
Victim of Bailey’s Crossroads Crash Identified — Gladis Suyapa Deras, 54, of Falls Church died in a two-vehicle crash outside Skyline Plaza on Tuesday (May 24), police confirmed. Investigators say the occupants of the other vehicle initially ran from the scene, and one of them was arrested for allegedly being drunk in public. [FCPD]
Herndon Man Arrested for Sexual Battery of Minor — “Town of Herndon Police arrested a 53-year-old Herndon man in connection with the aggravated sexual battery of a juvenile victim who was known to him, according to the weekly crime report. Police arrested Jenaro Alberto Hernandez Jovel on May 6 for an incident that occurred in the 500 block of Florida Avenue, according to police.” [Patch]
FCPS Releases Data on New TJ Class — Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology’s Class of 2026 will have 550 students as the second accepted under the revised admissions process. Asian students ticked up to 60%, as did low-income students (33%), while Hispanic students dropped slightly (8%) and white and Black students stayed level (21% and 6%). [The Washington Post]
Fairfax Senator Drops Support for Football Stadium — State Sen. Chap Petersen (D-34) doesn’t intend to vote for a $1 billion plan that he supported in January to bring a new Washington Commanders stadium to Virginia. He says he no longer believes the NFL team “will be good for business,” citing sexual harassment and financial misconduct allegations as well as its name change. [WUSA9]
Kingstowne Chick-fil-A Opens — “The Chick-fil-A in Kingstowne will be opening Thursday morning, the restaurant has announced…The restaurant is near the intersection of South Van Dorn and Kingstowne Boulevard, at 5808 Kingstowne Center. Hours will be 6:30 a.m.-10 p.m.” [Alexandria Living]
Firefighters Meet People Helped in Route 7 Crash — “On April 2, a serious two-car crash occurred on Leesburg Pike. 2 adults and a child were trapped in back of one car w/serious injuries. Recently, units who responded to the incident had the pleasure of hosting them. #FCFRD are happy they are doing well & were grateful for visit.” [FCFRD/Twitter]
Park Authority Summer Hiring Underway — The Fairfax County Park Authority will offer a few new benefits this year to summer employees, including $100 sign-up and retention bonuses and free access to all rec centers for the season. Hiring events are scheduled at The Water Mine in Reston and the Providence Rec Center in West Falls Church. [FCPA]
Dinosaur Encounter Opens in Centreville — “Dinosaurs are returning from extinction with The Jurassic Encounter in Northern Virginia. The outdoor walk-through dinosaur exhibit is the first of its kind at the Bull Run Events Center, home of the Annual Bull Run Festival of Lights, now through May 30 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.” [WTOP]
It’s Thursday — Overcast throughout the day. High of 70 and low of 59. Sunrise at 5:50 am and sunset at 8:25 pm. [Weather.gov]
Kingstowne Man Indicted for Real Estate Loan Scheme — Calling it one of the largest embezzlement cases in Fairfax County history, the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office announced yesterday (Monday) that Carlos Camacho has been charged with 15 counts of embezzlement and four counts of forgery. Camacho allegedly used loans to divert more than $2 million from his employer for personal expenses. [DCist]
County Sees Rise in Domestic Violence During Pandemic — “During the first quarter of 2022, our Department of Family Services’ Domestic and Sexual Violence Services (DSVS) division has seen this trend in real time through its Domestic and Sexual Violence 24-Hour Hotline, which has recorded an uptick in the number of domestic violence calls it receives.” [Fairfax County Government]
VDOT to Suspend Highway Work During Memorial Day Weekend — “Based on 2018 and 2019 traffic data, periods of moderate to heavy congestion on those pre-pandemic Memorial Day weekends were most likely to occur between noon and 6 p.m. on Friday and Monday, and midday on Saturday and Sunday, VDOT said in a news release.” [Inside NoVA]
IT Consulting Firm Octo Opens Lab in Reston — “Honored to attend the ribbon cutting for oLab today. With the relocation of groundbreaking companies and the expansion of cutting edge innovation labs in Virginia, we’re going to keep solving problems and making critical breakthroughs right here in the Commonwealth.” [Mark Warner]
Virginia Lawmakers Near a Budget Deal — “State legislators got word Monday that they should return to the Capitol on June 1 to vote on a proposed two-year state budget, even though final details on the spending plan were still being hammered out…Legislators launched the special session in April on his orders but promptly went home because there was no compromise to vote on.” [The Washington Post]
Chantilly Student Collects Medical Supplies and Food for Ukraine — “Nicholas, a student at Fairfax County’s Rachel Carson Middle School, chose to help Ukraine as part of his Eagle Scout project. All donations will be boxed by Nicholas and his fellow Scouts, and then sent to United Help Ukraine, a Maryland-based nonprofit organization founded in 2014.” [Patch]
Deputy Fire Chief Promoted — “Fire Chief John Butler is pleased to announce that Deputy Chief Dan Shaw has been promoted to Assistant Chief with the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department. Assistant Chief Shaw will head the Office of the Fire Chief, which includes Data Analytics Management, Fiscal Services, Health and Wellness, Information Technology, Planning, and Public Information and Life Safety Education.” [FCFRD]
It’s Tuesday — Rain in the morning and afternoon. High of 66 and low of 53. Sunrise at 5:51 am and sunset at 8:24 pm. [Weather.gov]
It’s Earth Day — The Fairfax County Park Authority launched a new Earth Day website this week to provide information on upcoming events, volunteer opportunities, and ways to promote environmental stewardship. The annual occasion started in 1970 “to generate awareness and support for environmental protection.” [FCPA]
Community Raises $20K for Young Reston Soccer Player — “Aaron, a player in the Great Falls-Reston Soccer Club, recently told his coach that he couldn’t come to practice because he didn’t have any cleats. The elite soccer player explained that he was one of the 15 people who’d been displaced by a fire at the Stonegate Village Apartment complex in Reston on April 10.” [Patch]
No Development Planned for Seven Corners Shopping Center — “The Seven Corners Shopping Center is not going to be replaced with a mixed-use development, confirms Janet McCarthy, vice president of leasing at Saul Centers Inc., at least for the foreseeable future…Saul Centers expects to announce a new tenant for the Dogfish Head Alehouse spot by June 1.” [Annandale Today]
Firefighters Reunite with Rescued Vienna Resident — “Engine 402, Vienna, and Engine 430, Merrifield, A-Shift teamed up to assist an occupant out of a house fire last week. Engine 402 was thrilled to meet occupant recently, along w/Vienna Mayor Colbert, and saw he was well. #FCFRD is happy he is doing well after horrific event.” [FCFRD/Twitter]
Kingstowne Shopping Centers Change Hands — Federal Realty will acquire Kingstowne Towne Center and Kingstowne Shopping Center for roughly $200 million, the company announced yesterday (Thursday). The real estate firm says it will “amenitize” the towne center but has no immediate plans for redevelopment. The purchase doesn’t include the Regal cinema. [Washington Business Journal]
Herndon Satellite Company Prepares for Launch — “The long-delayed first launch of a Rocket Lab Electron rocket from Virginia is now scheduled for late this year, carrying satellites for HawkEye 360. Rocket Lab announced April 19 it signed a contract with HawkEye 360 to deliver 15 satellites over three launches.” [Space News]
Spring Fest Returns to Mosaic District — Caboose Commons is bringing back its celebratory spring festival tomorrow (Saturday), promising food, live music, and games as well as beer, wine, and cocktail tastings. The festivities begin at noon and continue until 7 p.m. [Caboose Brewing Company]
Reston’s Water Mine Hiring Tomorrow — “Looking for a fun summer job? This Saturday (4/23/22) the Water Mine in Reston is hosting an open hire. Stop by anytime between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. to apply, interview, and if offered a position, complete hire paperwork on-the-spot.” [FCPA/Twitter]
Marshall HS to Open Musical Next Week — “After a successful fall play, the Statesmen Theatre Department at Marshall High School is preparing to perform its spring musical on two upcoming weekends. The spring musical at Marshall High School will be the Tony Award-nominated ‘A Year with Frog and Toad.’ Performances are scheduled for April 28 and 29 and May 6 and 7.” [Patch]
It’s Friday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 72 and low of 51. Sunrise at 6:23 am and sunset at 7:54 pm. [Weather.gov]
A local effort to divert food from landfills, thanks to composting, is expanding.
Fairfax County is adding another farmers market, this one in Kingstowne, to its list of locations where people can drop off unused food for reuse.
People can drop off the food scraps during the farmers market hours, which for Kingstowne takes place 3 to 7 p.m. Fridays starting May 6.
Other farmers markets and sites that also allow for composting drop-offs include:
- Burke — 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays beginning this weekend (April 16)
- Herndon — from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Thursdays as of April 28,
- Mount Vernon — from 8 a.m. to noon on Wednesdays starting next week (April 20)
- Mosaic District — from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays year round
- The I-66 Transfer Station and I-95 Landfill Complex — between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. every day of the week.
Fairfax County said in a news release yesterday (Wednesday) that the pilot program diverted 22 tons of food scraps last year. According to the county, the amount of greenhouse gas emissions eliminated by the effort was equivalent to taking 50 cars off the road.
In another area of growth for farmers markets, more vendors are also slated to participate this year as the seasonal staples return across the region.
Photo via Philip Cohen/Wikimedia
The body found in a Maryland park on Thursday (March 24) was that of 35-year-old Hannah Choi, Fairfax County police confirmed today (Monday).
Police are still looking for Joel Mosso Merino, 27, of Alexandria, who was her ex-boyfriend and has been identified as the primary suspect in the murder investigation.
Choi’s sister, Minna Choi, said at the press conference that the family was relieved they can at least get some closure.
“I always knew my sister was a social butterfly,” Minna Choi said. “She had so many friends and connections and really the past couple weeks have really shown us particularly how much of an impact she had on…people’s lives around her.”
Amid tears, she said they will remember Hannah Choi as someone who was strong, brave, and dedicated to helping others.
“Merino needs to be caught,” Fairfax County police Maj. Ed O’Carroll said, adding that the suspect “fled like a coward.”
Police announced a $40,000 reward for information that leads to Merino’s whereabouts and arrest. The reward money is supported by donations from Choi’s loved ones.
The body was found by a passerby after a search by authorities of Piscataway Park, Maryland, which is across the Potomac River from Mount Vernon.
Choi was last seen March 5 at her home in Kingstowne and reported missing a day after, according to police. Since then, authorities have been trying to locate Merino, who was seen in Atlanta, Georgia, at one point.
The Fairfax County Police Department has obtained warrants for Merino with charges of second-degree murder and felony disposal of human remains.
Merino was supposed to be on a flight from Reagan National Airport on March 8 to California. Police waited at the airport, but the seat went unoccupied.
Police said they found evidence in a car in D.C. that suggested Choi was harmed. Search dogs helped canvass the park, and authorities searched more than 800 acres of the park on March 11 and 14.
People with information about Choi’s disappearance or knowledge of Merino’s whereabouts can contact detectives at 703-246-7800, option 2. Anonymous tips can be sent to 1-866-411-TIPS (866-411-8477), by text, or on the web.
“He could be anywhere,” O’Carroll said. “He could have left the country. All options are on the table.”
(updated at 6 p.m.) Fairfax County police are searching for a Kingstowne man charged with murder after his former girlfriend went missing.
Hannah Choi, 35, was last seen in the 5300 block of Jesmond Street in Kingstowne, where she and her ex-boyfriend Joel Merino lived together, police said.
Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis said this afternoon (Tuesday) the department believes Merino, 27, killed Choi in the house on March 5 and disposed of her body in a park in Prince George’s County, Maryland, based on evidence they uncovered at the home and in a vehicle.
“With an abundance of probable cause and an abundance of evidence, we worked with the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office and we secured these arrest warrants and now the search for Joel Merino is underway,” he said.
Obtaining the warrants before Choi’s body is recovered is something that maybe happens once in a decade, Davis said. The warrants charge Merino with second-degree murder and felony disposal of human remains.
Major Crimes, Cyber and Forensics Bureau Chief Maj. Ed O’ Carroll said Choi’s friends called the police March 6 to report her missing after she missed appointments and was not answering the door. “It was very unlike her and she could not be reached,” he said.
Police said the house was in order except for missing bedding. They then found the vehicle in D.C. that they believe Merino used, and discovered evidence indicating Choi was seriously injured before her disappearance, he said. The department is not releasing the specifics on the evidence.
“We know something bad happened, really bad,” O’Carroll said. “We have evidence and details that make us believe, firmly believe, without any doubt, that she is deceased.”
He said the two may have had an argument on Saturday, March 5. Police knew they were in the community together that evening.
Merino spent time the night after she was killed and into the morning in Piscataway Park, Davis said. Police and assisting agencies and teams have been searching the park looking for Choi, he said.
O’ Carroll described Choi as “a bright, caring, amazing young woman with the world at her reach.”
“This is tragic,” he said. “We are committed to finding Hannah and finding her killer. She is a victim of murder. For justice and closure we do need your help.”
Missing Endangered: 35yo Hannah Choi was last seen yesterday 7am in the 5300 blk of Jesmond St, Alexandria. She is 5’4, 125, blk eyes, bro hair. She has a tattoo of Chinese symbol on ankle. Unknown clothing. Endangered due to mental &/or physical health concerns. Call 911 w/info. pic.twitter.com/fDkpk1ekLx
— Fairfax County Police (@FairfaxCountyPD) March 7, 2022
O’ Carroll asked anyone who has information about her disappearance, knowledge of Merino’s whereabouts, or anything that could help with the investigation to contact the Fairfax County Police Department at 703-246-7800 Option 2, or to submit a tip anonymously through Crime Solvers call 1-866-411-TIPS.
Police believe Merino uses other aliases, and O’Connell said they did have information that he had fled at one point to the Atlanta area of Georgia in the last week. If anyone sees Merino, they should call 911.
Police said this is the sixth homicide of the year in Fairfax County, in comparison with three homicides at this point in 2021.
Another golfing and restaurant business has officially opened at the site of the former Topgolf in Kingstowne.
Rudy’s — a golf recreation and entertainment facility — opened earlier this month at 6626 South Van Dorn Street. The venue, which is similar to Topgolf, includes a golf driving range, restaurant and bar.
The business is currently in the first phase of opening and is only accepting cash, according to the company. Reservations for bays will not be available for a few months.
The Kingstowne location was Topgolf’s first when it opened 2005. It shuttered in 2020 as the property owner explored redeveloping the site into a residential project. Ruby Tuesday, also located on the site, closed shortly thereafter.
The Fairfax County Planning Commission indefinitely deferred redevelopment plans in November 2021 after the proposal stirred community consternation.
An amendment to the county’s comprehensive plan called for up to 275 residential units and up to 20,000 square feet of retail uses. The change could also boost the commercial component of the project to up to 70,000 gross square feet to make way for a retail anchor like a grocery store.
Shortly after the deferral, the Washington Business Journal reported that Rudy’s was set to take over the former Topgolf site.
The facility is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Guests can take advantage of two levels and 72 bays.
For years, Fairfax County officials have conceded that county services in the Kingstowne area are scattered and its facilities small and outdated.
The county hopes that a multi-million-dollar project for a new government campus and library will help shift that narrative.
Construction is expected to begin this summer on the 90,000-square-foot project, which will house the Franconia Governmental Center, the Franconia Police Station, and Kingstowne Regional Library. The building will occupy a county-owned site between Beulah Street, Silver Lake Boulevard, and Interparcel Road.
“The design of the facility is complete, and we are currently in the process of getting bid authorization from the Cap Deputy Director,” said Sharon North, a spokesperson for the county’s Department of Public Works and Environmental Services.
North declined to provide a construction cost estimate because the project has not gone out to bid yet. That will happen in late March or early April.
Expected to be complete by 2024, the project is being funded partly through a $23 million public safety bond from fiscal year 2015 and a library bond referendum in fiscal year 2020.
The campus is expected to be the new home of an Active Adult Center with 7,200 square feet of space — nearly double its current size — and a 10,000-square-foot child care center for infants and preschool.
The Kingstowne Regional Library’s footprint will expand from 15,000 square feet to 30,000 square feet. It will include more space for seating, four group study rooms, a teen zone with a gaming station, and extended hours for public meeting rooms.
Three public meeting rooms are also incorporated in the campus. A 182-space parking garage is planned for the public, along with a 172-space garage for the police station.
Two store clerks were assaulted Sunday when two men attempted to rob the AT&T Store at 6471 Old Beulah Street in the Newington/Kingstowne area.
Howard Ludwig, Fairfax County police spokesman, said the two male suspects initially entered the store around 12:34 p.m. and inquired about some merchandise.
That is when one of them punched an employee and stabbed another. Ludwig said the pair had stuffed store merchandise into a bag, but during the melee, they left behind the bag.
Injuries, he said, do not appear to be life threatening.
Police are looking for the men who fled in a red car. Ludwig says police are studying surveillance video and hope to have a better suspect description later.