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Morning Notes

A Ben and Jerry’s truck hands out ice cream in a Vienna neighborhood (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Criminal Case for Bijan Ghaisar Shooting Ends — The Justice Department won’t reopen a federal investigation into two U.S. Park Police officers who fatally shot McLean resident Bijan Ghaisar in 2017. Ghaisar’s family called the decision “a betrayal,” but it will allow their civil lawsuit that has been pending since October 2020 to move forward. [WTOP, The Washington Post]

Police Look for Man Reported Missing — “53YO Juan Ward last seen at 12:47pm on May 25 in 12500 blk of Dillingham Sq. in Woodbridge. 5’11”, 185lbs, black/grey hair, brown eyes, wearing a long-sleeve grey sweatshirt. Missing under unusual circumstances. Call 703-691-2131 w/info.” [FCPD/Twitter]

Two Rescued from Vehicle Crash on I-95 — “Approximately 3 a.m. [Saturday], units were on scene of a one vehicle crash, I-95 NB prior to Telegraph Rd. Rescue Squads 426 and 411 extricated two patients who were heavily entrapped in a pick up truck. Fire Department, City of Alexandria, VA assisted. Transported w/ non-life-threatening injuries.” [FCFRD/Facebook]

Seven Displaced by Annandale House Fire — “At 3:09 a.m., units dispatched for a house fire in the 3900 block of Terrance Drive, Annadale. Units arrived with fire showing. Multiple occupants were removed or assisted from the home by #FCFRD. No reported injuries. 7 displaced.” [FCFRD/Twitter]

FCPD Continues Oakton Crash Site Investigation — “On Thursday morning, Fairfax County Police returned to the scene of a deadly crash involving seven Oakton High students. They said they came back to do more investigating to make sure they give the commonwealth’s attorney the evidence he needs to decide on charges.” [ABC7]

Armed Robbery Reported in Tysons — “1700 block of Tysons Central Street, 6/8/22, 2:44 a.m. Four men approached the victim when he exited his taxi. Two men displayed firearms, took property, and fled the area in a vehicle.” [FCPD]

Annandale School Starts Principal Search — “Annandale Terrace parents will soon have an opportunity to participate in the selection process for a new principal. The current principal, Lisa Pilson, will start a new job July 1 as director of early childhood curriculum and grants management with Fairfax County Public Schools.” [Annandale Today]

Lifeguard Shortage Not an Issue in Reston — As of Wednesday (June 8), Reston Assocation has managed to hire 186 lifeguards for its swimming pools, a number it didn’t meet last year until September. While many pools across the country have struggled to find staff, RA says it retained 71% of lifeguards from last year and will continue hiring through the season to prepare for next year. [Patch]

It’s Monday — Humid and partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 85 and low of 72. Sunrise at 5:44 am and sunset at 8:37 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Yellow flowers at Walker Nature Center in Reston (photo by Marjorie Copson)

Motorcyclist Injured in Crash — Fairfax County police detectives responded to a crash involving a motorcycle & vehicle at Braddock Road and Second Road in the Fairfax area around 1 p.m. yesterday (Sunday). The motorcyclist was taken to the hospital with injuries initially considered life-threatening but later got upgraded. [FCPD/Twitter]

GOP Selects 8th and 10th Congressional District Nominees — Karina Lipsman, a Ukranian-born defense worker who lives in Arlington, beat four other contenders to become the Republican nominee for the 8th District, where she’ll face either incumbent Rep. Don Beyer or his Democratic challenger Victoria Virasingh. The 10th District will be a contest between incumbent Rep. Jennifer Wexton and Navy veteran Hung Cao. [WTOP]

Amazon Testing Retail Delivery Drivers in Tysons — “Amazon is turning to its legions of contracted Flex drivers to deliver packages from mall-based retailers, allowing sellers to ship products from their own stores using the e-commerce giant’s delivery service…Amazon is also testing the service in Chandler, Arizona, and Tysons Corner, Virginia, according to Bloomberg.” [CNBC]

McLean Bible Church Seeks Election Redo to Stop Lawsuit — “The conflict over the McLean election is part culture war, part battle over bylaws, fueled by political polarization and the broader evangelical ‘woke wars,’ combined with a recent pastoral transition and a global pandemic.” [Religion News Service]

People Attacked With Machete in Groveton — “3500 block of Robert E. Lee Place, 5/13/22, 11:51 p.m. Two men displayed a gun and assaulted two victims with a machete. One victim was transported with injuries not considered life threatening. Preliminary, this does not appear to be a random act.” [FCPD]

Reston Home Depot Robbed — “1651 Reston Parkway (Home Depot), 5/17/22, 4:16 p.m. A man exited the store with merchandise without paying. When confronted by store employees, he displayed a firearm and ran away. No injuries were reported.” [FCPD]

Vienna Police Investigate Vehicle Window Smashings — “First, it was a rash of catalytic-converter thefts that kept Vienna police hopping earlier this year. Now vandals have been damaging vehicles’ windows. Vienna police on May 17 received four reports of vandalism on vehicles parked on two streets.” [Sun Gazette]

It’s Monday — Light rain starting in the afternoon. High of 72 and low of 59. Sunrise at 5:51 am and sunset at 8:23 pm. [Weather.gov]

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I-495 South (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

(Updated at 3:45 p.m.) Fairfax County police were pulled into a chase on I-495 during rush hour after a reported armed robbery in Tysons yesterday afternoon (Wednesday).

Two men and a woman allegedly stole several pairs of shoes from a person who had agreed to meet them to sell property in the 1900 block of Old Gallows Road around 5:30 p.m.

“One juvenile approached the victim, displayed a firearm, and took property,” the Fairfax County Police Department told FFXnow.

According to police, the trio drove away in a Mercedes E320 that was “quickly located driving south on I-495 at Little River Turnpike” in Annandale.

Police officers attempted to stop the vehicle, but the pursuit continued down through Springfield onto I-95. It concluded when the Mercedes hit a curb and was disabled near Alban Road in Newington.

“The three occupants of the vehicle were taken into custody. No injuries were reported,” the FCPD said.

An FCPD spokesperson later added that the stolen property and two firearms were recovered from the Mercedes.

A 20-year-old woman from Dumfries has been charged with two counts of robbery and disregarding a police signal to stop. Police have also obtained petitions for the other two individuals, who are aged 17 and 15.

Alan Henney contributed to this report.

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Morning Notes

Kanzan cherry blossoms in Merrifield (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Local Parents Scramble to Find Baby Formula — “In Virginia, the [Women, Infants, and Children] program expanded formula options available to participants after a February recall of Abbott-made formula, but low inventory has forced many parents to search multiple stores, Paula N. Garrett, the state WIC director, said in a statement.” [The Washington Post]

Covid Outbreaks at More than Two Dozen Schools — “Twenty-six schools in Fairfax County are dealing with a coronavirus outbreak, according to the Virginia Department of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard…The Fairfax County school system has the highest number of schools reporting an outbreak in the region.” [Inside NoVA]

Extended I-66 Ramp Closure Coming — “Virginia Department of Transportation will be closing another ramp temporarily as part of the ongoing construction at the Nutley Street/I-66 Interchange…On or around May 13, VDOT will be closing the ramp from Virginia Center Boulevard to West I-66 for approximately six weeks. The closure will begin at approximately 10 a.m.” [Patch]

Undercover Operation Leads to Arrests in Two Armed Robberies — “Detectives from our Major Crimes Bureau began investigating a robbery that occurred prior to 12 p.m. on May 7 in the parking lot of 6600 Springfield Mall. The victim arranged to meet the suspect through an online marketplace to purchase a tablet computer. When the victim arrived, the suspect entered the victim’s vehicle, displayed a firearm and took cash.” [FCPD]

Supervisor Walter Alcorn Had COVID-19 — “The good news is that the vaccines are working at preventing serious illness – I can personally vouch for this after my own bout with COVID-19 several weeks ago. It wasn’t pleasant but was much like having the flu for a few days.” [Hunter Mill District News]

FCPS to Add Meal Designed by Students to Menu — A quartet of seventh-grade girls were chosen to represent Chantilly’s Franklin Middle School in the Real Food for Kids challenge. The students came up with the “Vegejita Wrapadilla,” a quesadilla stuffed with green and red bell peppers, tomatoes and onions that will be added to Fairfax County Public Schools’ lunch menu for the 2022-2023 school year. [FCPS]

McLean Mansion Tops D.C. Area Real Estate Market — Monumental Sports & Entertainment co-owner Roger Mody and his wife Kyle have listed their 5-acre mansion for $39 million. Called The Cliffs, the four-level, 35,000-square-foot home features indoor and outdoor pools, a basketball court, a 22-car garage, and a kitchen “designed with ‘input’ from Chef José Andrés.” [Washington Business Journal]

Vienna Wins Mayor Fitness Challenge — “The results are in, and Team Vienna is the victor in the second annual Mayors’ Fitness Challenge! The friendly competition between the Town of Vienna and Falls Church and Fairfax cities encourages residents to get moving and log their minutes of exercise in the name of community spirit and team pride.” [Town of Vienna]

It’s Thursday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 67 and low of 56. Sunrise at 6:00 am and sunset at 8:13 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Vienna police SUV (via Vienna Police Department/Facebook)

In a sequence of events that could’ve been ripped out of a pulpy crime thriller, a man in Vienna was reportedly taken for a ride and robbed at gunpoint — potentially by a trio spotted patronizing a local gun shop earlier that day.

Around 2:40 p.m. on April 9, the man was picked up by three men in a vehicle, one of them an acquaintance, at the Giant shopping center (359 Maple Avenue), according to the Vienna Police Department’s recap for the week of April 8-14.

“While they were driving around, the three men displayed handguns and announced a robbery, taking the citizen’s belongings,” police said. “The men allowed the citizen to exit the vehicle on Cabin Road where he ran to the nearest residence for assistance.”

According to the police report, a citizen reported seeing a man shopping for a handgun at Vienna Arsenal (386 Maple Avenue East) between noon and 1 p.m. that same day. The shopper allegedly left the gun store in a vehicle with two other men.

The report doesn’t specify whether the citizen is the same person who was robbed, but it does say that the person “thought the men may be related to the robbery.”

“Unfortunately, this is an active case and we can’t comment on it at this time,” a VPD spokesperson told FFXnow when asked if the “citizen” referenced in both incidents is the same person.

Police say anyone with information or video related to the armed robbery can contact Detective Herrera at 703-255-7821 or mherrera@viennava.gov.

A chore and errand take alarming turns

In other Vienna crime news, a resident of the Park Terrace Condominiums (200 block of Park Terrace Court) told police that a verbal argument with another woman in the complex’s communal laundry room escalated into a physical assault.

“The resident reported that during the dispute, the woman punched her,” Vienna police said of the incident, which occurred at 10 a.m. on April 10. “The resident was advised of the warrant process should she wish to pursue charges against the other resident.”

For a different Vienna woman, a visit to the post office on Lawyers Road became an occasion for distress when a man followed her “for several blocks,” according to the police summary:

Suspicious Event 22-003436
Post Office
200 Lawyers Road, NW
April 12 11:30 a.m.
A resident reported that she was at the Post Office when she observed a man who was trying to get her attention. The man followed the resident for several blocks. When the woman tried to take a picture of the man’s license plate, he became angry and got out of his vehicle. The woman drove immediately to the police station to report the incident.

The VPD says an officer tried to speak to the owner of the vehicle that the man reportedly drove, and those attempts “were unsuccessful.”

Photo via Vienna Police Department/Facebook

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A reward flyer regarding an alleged robbery
A reward flyer regarding an armed robbery of one mailman and attempted robbery of another in Fairfax County (via USPS)

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.

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Morning Notes

I-495 South under Route 7 overpass in Pimmit Hills (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Woman Dies in Crash on I-495 — Virginia State Police are investigating a fatal crash on I-495 near the Eisenhower Avenue Connector in the Rose Hill area. The crash occurred at 9:27 p.m. on Saturday (March 5) when a sedan hit a disabled vehicle, causing it to catch fire. The driver of the disabled vehicle died at the scene, while the sedan driver suffered minor injuries and was arrested on multiple charges, including driving under the influence. [Virginia State Police, InsideNova]

Trial for McLean Murder Suspect Begins — “Fairfax County police quickly announced that what unfolded inside the large, yellow home in McLean in 2017 appeared to be a tragic murder-suicide…But after a 16-month investigation, police offered a stunning turnabout: what initially appeared to be a murder-suicide was allegedly a double killing. They claimed the scene had been carefully staged by the real perpetrator.” [The Washington Post]

I-66 to Close Overnight in Fairfax This Week — “All lanes of I-66 West approaching Route 50 will close nightly, March 9-12, to allow for installation of bridge beams for a new access ramp from the future westbound I-66 Express Lanes to Route 50 West as part of the Transform 66 Outside the Beltway Project.” [VDOT]

No Injuries Reported in Reston Shooting Incident — Police responded to the 2200 block of Castle Rock Square around 11:17 p.m. last Tuesday (March 1) after members of the Shadowood Condominium complex community reported hearing gunshots. Officers found damage to a buildings and numerous cartridge cases in the area. [Patch]

Lorton Pizza Restaurant Robbed — According to Fairfax County police, a man entered Antonelli’s Pizza (8212 Gunston Corner Lane) around 9:53 p.m. on March 1 and assaulted an employee. The man walked behind the counter, discharged a firearm, and took property before leaving. The employee was treated for injuries considered not life threatening. [FCPD]

Sheriff’s Office Expands Mental Health Services for Staff — “Dr. Grace Davidson, Licensed Professional Counselor, recently joined the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office under contract full-time to provide behavioral health services for the agency’s 550 employees and their families.” [Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office]

McLean Teacher Gives Art Class to Support Ukraine Relief — “During the COVID-19 pandemic, Pamela Saunders has used art as a way to keep children engaged during virtual learning. Now she can use her platform as a way to show support for Ukraine after the Russian invasion.” [Patch]

Work Begins Today on New Lorton Playground — “The Fairfax County Park Authority will soon begin work on a new playground at Laurel Hill Central Green. Construction is scheduled to start the week of March 7 and is anticipated to be completed next month.” [FCPA/Twitter]

New Sidewalk Built to Park in Groveton — “The Telegraph Road Walkway project features more than half a mile of new sidewalk along the south side of Telegraph Road from 500 feet north of S. Kings Highway to the entrance of Lee District Park and Rose Hill Road. Watch the ribbon cutting ceremony.” [Fairfax TV Channel 16/Twitter]

It’s Monday — Showers are likely and possibly a thunderstorm, mainly after 4 p.m. Today will have a high near 80 and low near 42. It will be breezy, with a southwest wind 11 to 21 mph, with gusts as high as 34 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms. Sunrise was at 6:30 a.m. and sunset will be at 6:08 p.m. [weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

D.C. Residents Convicted in Local Armed Robbery — A federal jury convicted a D.C. man and woman Friday (Feb. 18) on charges of robbery, carjacking, and possession of a firearm during crimes of violence. Douglas Damon Whitley, 39, and Kendal Robinson, 35, allegedly robbed Peloton delivery van in a 7-11 parking lot in Fairfax on August 25, 2021.” [U.S. Attorney’s Office]

Police Civilian Review Panel Director Named — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors appointed Steven Richardson as executive director of the panel charged with reviewing reports of police misconduct. The first person in the new position, Richardson previously served as operations captain for the George Washington University Police Department. [Fairfax County Government]

Springfield Artist’s Work Featured on “Inventing Anna” — “Katz is a sculptor and painter who lives in Springfield, Va., and has a studio at the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria. Due to pandemic delays across show business, she wasn’t sure when the Netflix and Shondaland collaboration would be released, or if her artwork would make the final cut.” [DCist]

County Board Shows Support for ERA — “The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors passed a board matter Tuesday in support of the Equal Rights Amendment in response to Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares withdrawing the state from a legal effort to get it added to the U.S. Constitution.” [Patch]

Tysons TV Company Acquired — “Tysons media company Tegna Inc. has agreed to be acquired by hedge fund Standard General for $24 per share in cash, or approximately $5.4 billion…Tegna owns 64 television stations in 51 markets.” [Washington Business Journal]

Reston Association Sets Meeting on Comprehensive Plan — “There will be a special meeting of the Reston Association Board of Directors on March 2 to discuss draft amendments to the Reston section of the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan.” [RA]

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The Domino’s Pizza on Watson Street in Tysons was one of three Fairfax County businesses hit in a string of armed robberies in early 2021 (via Google Maps)

A 62-year-old Maryland resident faces almost two decades in prison for a string of armed robberies that spanned the D.C. area last year, including three incidents in Fairfax County.

Jon Karl Mcree Fleet was sentenced to 17 years today (Tuesday) after pleading guilty to using a firearm in five robberies committed between Jan. 24 and March 13, 2021, Department of Justice prosecutors announced.

“At the time of the robberies, Fleet was a convicted felon, having previously been convicted for armed robberies, and was thus prohibited from possessing a firearm,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Virginia said. “Fleet’s lengthy and violent criminal history qualifies him as a ‘Career Offender.'”

According to an affidavit from William Beechum, the investigating FBI agent, Fairfax County police first responded to an armed robbery report at the Macy’s in Springfield Town Center around 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 24, 2021.

Surveillance footage showed the suspect displaying a gun to the clerk at the cash register. Approximately $300 was reported stolen.

Similar robberies were subsequently reported on:

  • Feb. 11: McDonald’s (505 South Van Dorn Street) in the City of Alexandria
  • Feb. 17: Exxon gas station (1276 Crain Highway South) in Crofton, Maryland
  • Feb. 21: Subway (10428 Campus Way South) in Largo, Maryland
  • Feb. 23: Papa John’s (5860 Columbia Pike) in Bailey’s Crossroads
  • March 7: Marathon Gas Station (8405 Westphalia Road) in Upper Marlboro, Maryland
  • March 13: Domino’s Pizza (8133 Watson Street) in Tysons

The affidavit says Fleet was identified using cell phone data and video surveillance footage that captured his vehicle, clothes, and the use of “a sawed-off shotgun with distinctive blue tape,” which was spotted in the Upper Marlboro and Tysons robberies.

Fleet was arrested by U.S. Marshals deputies in D.C. on April 21, 2021, and extradited on April 26 to Fairfax County, where he has been detained since then.

A federal grand jury indicted Fleet on Aug. 19, 2021, handing down 10 total charges, including multiple counts of robbery and use of a firearm in connection to a violent crime. He was also charged with one count of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.

He had previously been convicted of armed robberies in Charles County and Anne Arundel County, Maryland, in 2002.

Fleet ultimately entered a plea agreement on Oct. 19 where he admitted guilt to the use of a gun in the Bailey’s Crossroads and McLean robberies in exchange for getting the other charges dismissed. Federal prosecutors also agreed to not pursue cases against him for any involvement in the Crofton and Upper Marlboro robberies.

The 17-year prison sentence is the minimum term required by federal law.

The plea agreement also requires Fleet to pay back the McDonald’s, Macy’s, Subway, Papa John’s and Domino’s stores that were robbed. The restitution totals $1,501.95, with the largest amount of $500 going to Subway.

Photo via Google Maps

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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.

This year, the FCPD is also pushing recruitment efforts with a revamped website because of staffing shortages, and has signed a pledge to increase female recruits to 30% by 2030.

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