Five MS-13 members have been sentenced to life in prison yesterday for kidnapping and killing two teens at Annandale’s Holmes Run Stream Valley Park in 2016.
Elmer Zelaya Martinez, Ronald Herrera Contreras, Henry Zelaya Martinez, Pablo Velasco Barrera, and Duglas Ramirez Ferrera were each handed six terms of life imprisonment as well as two 120-month terms by U.S. District Court Judge Rossie D. Alston, Jr., the Justice Department announced yesterday.
A federal jury convicted the men in July for the brutal murders of a 17-year-old Falls Church resident — identified by prosecutors by the initials E.E.E.M. — on Aug. 18, 2016 and a 14-year-old Alexandria resident, identified as S.A.A.T., on Sept. 26, 2016.
“This is a profoundly disturbing case involving gang members taking the lives of young members of our community,” Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis said. “We are proud to work with our federal partners on cases like this to keep Fairfax County and surrounding communities safe.”
Ranging in age from 24 to 31, the men attacked and stabbed E.E.E.M. over 100 times after meeting him at Holmes Run park, because they “erroneously suspected” that he was a member of the rival 18th Street gang, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office:
On the night of August 28, 2016, the gang lured E.E.E.M. to Holmes Run Stream Valley Park in Fairfax County under the pretense that there was going to be a gang meeting there. Instead, in a wooded area of the park, gang members restrained, attacked, and killed E.E.E.M., stabbing and chopping him more than 100 times with knives, a machete, and a pickaxe. Afterwards, the gang broke one of E.E.E.M.’s legs so that his body would fit into the pre-dug hole that was nearby.
Prosecutors say S.A.A.T. was killed in a similar manner based on an unfounded suspicion that he was a police informant:
The gang told S.A.A.T. that there was going to be a gang meeting later that night and encouraged him to attend. Not long thereafter, S.A.A.T. went outside in his pajamas, telling his mother he was just taking out the trash. Eventually, several gang members picked up S.A.A.T. and drove him to the same park where they had killed E.E.E.M. The gang members restrained, attacked, and killed S.A.A.T., stabbing and chopping him with knives, machetes, and a pickaxe. They also filmed the murder with a cell phone so that they could prove to gang leaders in the United States and in El Salvador that they deserved to be promoted in rank. Once S.A.A.T. was dead, the gang broke his legs and tied him up with his own pajama pants so that he would fit into the shallow grave that was dug for him that night.
Police didn’t find the remains of the two teens until March 2017 after they received a tip that prompted a two-day search of the area, according to news reports at the time. The park was also the site of murders by different MS-13 members in 2013.
The five men sentenced yesterday were all convicted of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and murder in aid of racketeering activity, conspiracy to kidnap, murder in aid of racketeering activity, and kidnapping resulting in death.
There was a total of 17 defendants in the case, including nine people who pleaded guilty before the trial earlier this year, according to the DOJ.
U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Jessica Aber called the life sentences a “fitting” response to “appallingly violent murders” that resulted in “wrecked families and fear-stricken communities.”
“They will protect the public from these five defendants, send a message to other members and associates of MS-13 that there will be severe consequences for committing violent crimes in furtherance of their gang’s illicit activities, and provide a measure of justice for the victims and their families,” Aber said in a statement.
Image via Google Maps
The Fairfax County Police Department announced that Chante Jones, 33, will be charged with second-degree murder after allegedly assaulting Michelle Huntley in June.
According to a police release, Huntley was found by a passerby at a bus stop in the 7900 block of Richmond Highway.
“She was taken to the hospital and succumbed to her injuries on June 26,” the release said. “Detectives located surveillance footage from several sources near the bus stop where the fatal assault occurred. An officer then spotted Jones on June 27 and took him into custody. At the time, Jones was charged with aggravated malicious wounding and held without bond.”
This afternoon, county police said that the results of an autopsy have led to the aggravated malicious wounding charge being amended to second degree murder.
Huntley, 63, was a person experiencing homelessness and was known in the community as Mama, ABC7 reported.
According to police:
Anyone who may have information about this assault is asked to contact detectives at 703-246-7800, option 2. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone – 1-866-411-TIPS (866-411-8477), and by web – Click HERE. Download the ‘P3 Tips’ App “Fairfax Co Crime Solvers”. Anonymous tipsters are eligible for cash rewards of $100 to $1,000 dollars. Please leave contact information if you wish for a detective to follow up with you.
Fairfax County police are searching for a 43-year-old man from Mount Vernon who they say is a suspect in a fatal shooting on Sunday (Oct. 2).
Detectives believe Kyjuan Omar Braxton Trott shot Brandon Wims, 31, of Maryland multiple times after approaching the vehicle where Wims and two other people were sitting at the Old Mill Gardens apartment complex in Mount Vernon, the Fairfax County Police Department said today (Thursday).
Trott was seen leaving the area in a silver Nissan Sentra registered in Maryland as 2ET4005, according to police.
Police responded to the 5800 block of St Gregorys Lane at 7 a.m. after receiving a report of gunshots in the area. At the same time, Wims was driven to Inova Mount Vernon Hospital before being transferred to Inova Fairfax Hospital, where he ultimately died.
The other two occupants of the vehicle were treated for non-life-threatening injuries, according to police.
As reported earlier this week, the FCPD says its detectives believe Trott and Wims were acquainted with each other, but the exact nature of their relationship remains under investigation.
Trott is now wanted by the FCPD, which has obtained warrants for second-degree murder, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, felon in possession of a firearm, and felon in possession of ammunition.
“Detectives are asking anyone with information to Trott’s whereabouts to call 703-246-7800,” the police department says. “If you see Trott, please call 911 immediately.”
More on how to contact the FCPD:
Tips can also be submitted anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone – 1-866-411-TIPS (866-411-8477) and by web — Click HERE. Download the ‘P3 Tips’ App and follow the steps to “Fairfax Co Crime Solvers.” Anonymous tipsters are eligible for cash rewards of $100 to $1,000 dollars. Please leave contact information if you wish for a detective to follow up with you.
Fairfax County police are investigating a fatal shooting after someone allegedly fired multiple gunshots into a car parked in the Mount Vernon area yesterday morning (Sunday), killing one of the occupants.
Officers were called to the Old Mill Gardens apartment complex at Jeff Todd Way and St. Gregory’s Lane shortly before 7 a.m. after receiving a report of gunshots in the area, Fairfax County Police Department Lt. Dan Spital said at a media briefing.
According to police, the shooting followed “an altercation” between three occupants of a car in the apartment parking lot and an individual who approached the vehicle on foot.
“At some point, the individual outside of the car fired multiple rounds inside that vehicle,” Spital said. “At least one person was struck, and that is our victim.”
Still in the same car, an acquaintance drove the victim, a man, to Inova Mount Vernon Hospital, where he was admitted with gunshot wounds to the upper body, police say. According to Spital, doctors determined that the man needed to be transferred to Inova’s Fairfax hospital, where he ultimately died.
The victim has succumbed to his injuries. Detectives from our Major Crimes Bureau and Crime Scene Section are responding to assume the investigation. https://t.co/OUoja7Lb93
— Fairfax County Police (@FairfaxCountyPD) October 2, 2022
Police believe the suspect and victim knew each other but are “still trying to determine the extent of that relationship,” Spital said. The suspect is likely a man, possibly the driver of a silver Nissan Maxima with Maryland tags seen “fleeing” the area, the FCPD says.
Police didn’t have any identifying information about the suspect beyond the description of the car seen leaving the area. However, the shooting is being investigated as a murder, according to Spital, who noted that “several rounds” were fired.
“It’s disturbing for this community, [on] a Sunday morning. I mean, it’s a time for families,” Spital said. “…The investigation has just gotten started, so our detectives, although they may not be on the scene here, are going to be working around the clock until they find the assailant.”
An 82-year-old man died in Rose Hill yesterday afternoon (Tuesday) after an apparent assault by his son, Fairfax County police say.
Samy Hassanein, 36, was arrested overnight and has now been charged with second-degree murder in the death of his father, Talat Hassanein, the Fairfax County Police Department announced this morning (Wednesday).
According to the department, its officers were called to the 5500 block of Justis Place at 2:37 p.m. yesterday for a death investigation. Upon arriving at the house, they found Talat Hassanein unconscious at the bottom of the basement stairs.
Talat was pronounced deceased at the scene by Fairfax County Fire and Rescue personnel.
“As detectives began investigating, they identified significant trauma to Talat’s upper body,” the FCPD said. “Detectives from our Crime Scene Section responded to the scene and discovered evidence to indicate Talat’s death was not accidental.”
Interviews and evidence collected at the home led detectives to determine that Samy Hassanein “fatally assaulted his father,” police said. Talat lived at the home with Samy and his other adult sons, who were all present during the investigation, according to the FCPD.
Samy Hassanein is currently in custody at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center without bond.
The police department says anyone with information about the incident can contact its detectives:
Detectives are asking anyone with information regarding this incident to call our Major Crimes Bureau at 703-246-7800, option 2. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone – 1-866-411-TIPS (866-411-8477), and by web – Click HERE. Download the ‘P3 Tips’ App and follow the steps to “Fairfax Co Crime Solvers”. Anonymous tipsters are eligible for cash rewards of $100 to $1,000 dollars. Please leave contact information if you wish for a detective to follow up with you.
(Updated at 3:05 p.m.) An 18-year-old man has been charged with second-degree murder in connection to a fatal shooting in the Woodlawn neighborhood on Saturday, the Fairfax County Police Department announced this morning (Wednesday).
Kevin Alexander Lemus was arrested around 7 p.m. yesterday (Tuesday) after police found him in the 7200 block of John Paul Drive in Groveton, FCPD Major Crimes Bureau Cyber and Forensics Commander Maj. Ed O’Carroll said at a press conference.
After his arrest, Lemus was transported to the Fairfax County Public Safety Headquarters, where he confessed to pulling the trigger that killed 19-year-old Annandale resident Darlin Ariel Diaz Flores, according to O’Carroll.
Also charged with possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony, Lemus has had over 80 previous encounters with local law enforcement, including “numerous serious contacts,” police say.
“We are all safer with Lemus behind bars,” O’Carroll said. “He chose to have a gun, not his first time. He chose to shoot a man and ultimately take a life. Now, he will face consequences for his actions.”
According to police, Diaz Flores was in Woodlawn after attending a social event in Maryland and was waiting with friends to get a ride home outside an apartment in the 8400 block of Graves Street.
The confrontation that resulted in the shooting started with an exchange of “very simple words” between Diaz Flores and Lemus, who was passing by, O’Carroll said. Police don’t believe the two men knew each other, the department told FFXnow.
Diaz Flores was shot in the upper body, and Lemus fled the scene, police say. After a community member called 911 at 9:34 p.m., police officers found Diaz Flores, and he was transported to Inova Fairfax Hospital, where he died shortly after arriving.
According to O’Carroll, FCPD detectives embarked on a multi-day canvass of the neighborhood, where they interviewed witnesses and residents, looked for surveillance footage, and collected forensic evidence from the scene.
“Their important work eventually led to a big break in the case, and Lemus was identified as our killer,” O’Carroll said.
When asked by FFXnow, the FCPD didn’t elaborate on how Lemus was identified as the suspect or his past encounters with local police, stating that it is “not able to discuss juvenile records.”
The gun used in the shooting hasn’t been located, according to the department, which advises anyone with information to contact its detectives at 703-246-7800, option 2, or through Crime Solvers.
Fairfax County General District Court records show that Lemus was already facing three felony charges stemming from an April 20 incident and arrest. He faced two counts of possession of schedule I or II drugs and a related gun possession charge.
A judge had released Lemus in April on a personal recognizance bond of $2,500, the court told FFXnow, though the records don’t show the reasoning behind that decision.
The Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney confirmed that the release was the judge’s decision. Fairfax County’s public defender’s office, which is listed on court records as Lemus’s defense attorney, said it had no comment.
Lemus is now being held without bond at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center. He’s scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 25 for a hearing on both cases.
Diaz Flores was the 11th person killed by gunfire in Fairfax County this year, according to the police department.
Photo via FCPD/Twitter
A 59-year-old woman died Sunday (Sept. 4) after she and her husband were found shot at a townhouse in the Mount Vernon area that morning.
The Fairfax County Police Department believes Daphne Saunders-Johnson was shot by her husband, James Johnson, who then shot himself in a “domestic-related incident.”
Johnson has been charged with second degree murder and the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, the FCPD announced yesterday (Monday).
According to the police department, officers responded to the 7900 block of Central Park Circle at approximately 3:19 a.m. after getting a report of a shooting.
“Shortly after arriving, officers heard a gunshot and entered the residence to find Daphne Saunders-Johnson, 59, and James Johnson, 62, suffering from gunshot wounds,” the FCPD said. “The married couple lived in the home and were both taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries.”
Saunders-Johnson died at the hospital, while Johnson remains there in “critical but stable condition,” police say.
The cause of death will be confirmed with an autopsy by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
The FCPD says the charges were determined in consultation with the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, noting that a firearm was found at the home.
The shooting remains under investigation. Police say Johnson will be transferred to the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center once he is released from the hospital.
There have now been 15 homicides in Fairfax County this year, compared to 17 at this point and 21 overall in 2021.
Fairfax County’s Department of Family Services offers support for people experiencing or affected by domestic violence through its Domestic and Sexual Violence Services division:
The Domestic and Sexual Violence Services Division of the Department of Family Services would like to remind the community that there are many resources available for people experiencing domestic violence. The 24-hour Domestic Violence Hotline, 703-360-7273; TTY 711, is a way to access community resources in Virginia and surrounding jurisdictions. DSVS offers compassionate and comprehensive state-accredited programs for women, men, teens and children who have been affected by domestic and sexual violence, stalking and human trafficking.
County Offers New Covid Vaccine — “Starting this week, adults 18 years of age and older who have never received a COVID-19 vaccine and are interested in getting one, can now make an appointment for the recently authorized Novavax COVID-19 Vaccine, Adjuvanted. Due to limited availability, Novavax will only be offered by appointment only.” [Fairfax County Health Department]
Teen Takes Stand in Springfield Murder Trial — “A teenager on trial in the killings of two Fairfax County high school students took the stand Tuesday and said he was defending a friend when he opened fire inside a Springfield, Virginia, home last year…Ersheen Elaiaiser, 17, was shot twice in the chest and 16-year-old Calvin Van Pelt was shot once in the back at a home in the 8000 block of Winding Way Court, prosecutors said. Both teens died.” [NBC4]
Detective Testifies in Tysons Shooting Case — “A detective told the Fairfax County court that Noah Settles, 22, of Southeast D.C., fired three times inside the crowded mall on June 18, over Father’s Day weekend. The shooting caused scared shoppers to run for exits and hide inside the mall. The mall was temporarily closed by authorities.” [NBC4]
Chicken Restaurant Coming to Annandale — “O’my ChiQ & Bar is expected to open in late September at 7023 Columbia Pike in Annandale. A patio is under construction. The restaurant will specialize in rotisserie, grilled, and barbecue chicken and barbecue ribs, says the future manager, who now works at Omy Hot Pot on Annandale Road.” [Annandale Today]
Firefighter Rescues Stuck Kitten — “Kitten stuck in a storm drain? No problem for the crew of Engine 409, Mount Vernon, B-Shift! Probationary Firefighter James Gupton made the grab to get kitty to safety! @FairfaxCountyPD Animal Protection took the kitten to @fairfaxanimals for eventual adoption.” [FCFRD/Twitter]
Fairfax Speed Cameras Will Be Back Monday — “Speed enforcement cameras have been installed in SCHOOL ZONES on Old Lee Highway, Route 236/Main Street, and Jermantown Road, near the city’s four schools and two Fairfax County schools (Woodson High School and Frost Middle School).” [City of Fairfax Police Department/Facebook]
Community Center and Day Care Workers Needed — “The Fairfax County Department of Neighborhood & Community Services is hosting an Open Hire Event on Wednesday, August 31 to fill multiple Activity Facilitator and SACC Day Care Teacher positions located at various community centers and SACC program sites…The event takes place August 31 from 5-7 p.m. at the Pennino Building.” [NCS]
Family-Owned Fairfax Restaurant Gets Notice — The winners of WTOP’s Top 10 contest are pretty Arlington and Maryland-centric, but Captain Pell’s Fairfax Crabhouse on Fairfax Blvd managed a runner-up mention in the “Best Seafood” category. Other local restaurants are featured further down the lists, which were determined by the news outlet’s readers and listeners. [WTOP]
It’s Wednesday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 81 and low of 65. Sunrise at 6:26 am and sunset at 8:02 pm. [Weather.gov]
Richard Montano, 47, was arrested at his home in Arlington around 6:30 p.m. after allegedly fleeing the scene of the homicide in the 2900 block of Willston Place, where police say he assaulted Silvia Vaca Abacay, 40, of Falls Church and set her on fire.
Officers responded to The Villages at Falls Church at 3:05 p.m. after a neighbor reported a man and woman having an argument in an adjacent condominium, the Fairfax County Police Department said yesterday (Thursday).
There, they found Vaca Abacay “on fire and suffering from multiple stab wounds to the upper body,” according to the report announcing the charges against Montano.
“First responders extinguished the fire and attempted to provide life-saving measures. Sadly, she was pronounced deceased at the scene,” the FCPD said.
According to police, a witness reported seeing a man flee the scene, prompting a shelter-in-place order for residents while officers searched the area.
The FCPD says Montano was identified as a person of interest based on “an investigative analysis” of the condo by detectives with help from professional support staff. They also located surveillance footage that showed Montano entering the home prior to the murder, according to police.
The Arlington Police Department provided assistance in locating and arresting Montano, who is being held without bond at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center.
In addition to murder, Montano has been charged with burglary with intent to commit murder and burning of an occupied dwelling.
“The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner is in the process of conducting an autopsy to determine the exact cause and manner of death,” police said.
The FCPD has investigated 14 homicides so far this year, slighly under the 15 homicides recorded by this point in 2021.
Route 7 Traffic Shift Starts Today — “During the daytime hours on Aug. 11 and the overnight hours on Aug. 15, lane closures and temporary detours will be in place along Route 7 while crews continue paving operations at Carpers Farm Way and Colvin Run Road (east) and shift westbound Route 7 traffic to the new Difficult Run bridge.” [VDOT]
Pro-Nazi Social Media Posts Excluded from Reston Murder Trial — “A Virginia judge has ruled that prosecutors cannot tell the jury in an upcoming double-murder trial about the defendant’s social media posts containing praise for Adolf Hitler and support for Nazi book burnings and the neo-Nazi Atomwaffen Division, according to newly unsealed court records.” [The Washington Post]
Foust on Upcoming Retirement — “Deciding to step down in 2023 was not easy, but Supervisor John Foust (D-Dranesville) is ready to try some new challenges…He plans to stay involved on issues he cares about – such as affordable housing, economic development and climate change — and seek part-time consulting opportunities that ‘take advantage of the expertise that I’ve developed over the years.'” [Sun Gazette]
Salt Water Levels Rising in Region — “Once algae-pocked emblems of water pollution during the early 1970s, the Potomac River and the Occoquan Reservoir — the two sources of drinking water used by Fairfax Water to serve more than 2 million customers in Northern Virginia — are now trending in the wrong direction on salt, while the other contaminants have largely been cleaned up.” [The Washington Post]
Lorton Plant Gets Tech to Reduce Emissions — “Covanta, the company that runs the facilities, announced the installation of the pollution-fighting technology in a news release earlier this week, saying it has helped cut nitrogen oxide emissions by nearly 50%…The Fairfax County facility is located at its I-95 waste management complex in Lorton, and is one of the largest waste-to-energy facilities in the nation, according to the county.” [WTOP]
Report Grades Stream From Lake Barcroft — “Holmes Run, which flows through the Annandale area, is not in great condition, according to a report released Aug. 10 by the Audubon Naturalist Society…The report gives Holmes Run a grade of ‘moderately poor’ for climate, a rating of ‘good’ for access to nature, and ‘fair’ ratings for water quality and for biodiversity and habitat.” [Annandale Today]
California Firm Buys Local Defense Office Buildings — “The properties include six buildings at five locations in Fairfax County, Fairfax City and Loudoun County. They’re 96% leased to the likes of Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT), General Dynamics Corp. (NYSE: GD), The Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) and Northrop Grumman Corp. (NYSE: NOC).” [Washington Business Journal]
Reston Turns Out for Trucks — “Thank you to all the families that came out for this year’s Totally Trucks event! For the past 22 years, Totally Trucks has delighted kids and adults alike, and this year was no different with more than 1000 people in attendance.” [Reston Association/Twitter]
Local Breweries Win Awards — “Vienna and Merrifield’s Caboose Brewing Company and Sweetwater Tavern scored several awards in the 2022 Virginia Craft Beer Cup, announced by the Virginia Craft Brewers Guild Monday. The Virginia Craft Beer Cup is the largest state competition of its kind in the U.S.” [Patch]
It’s Thursday — Possible drizzle in the morning. High of 85 and low of 73. Sunrise at 6:20 am and sunset at 8:10 pm. [Weather.gov]