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Improperly discarded smoking materials caused a West Falls Church apartment fire on Sunday (May 29) that damaged 11 units, Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department said.

Around 2:51 p.m., crews from the county and Arlington County Fire Department responded to the 2900 block of Dover Lane and saw fire visible from the third-floor balcony, according to a press release.

There were three people in the apartment at the time of the fire, which a neighbor saw on the balcony and alerted the building occupants to, the release said. Everyone evacuated before the fire department arrived.

Due to the hot temperatures that day, and the location of the fire, the City of Fairfax Fire Department also responded.

“Crews were able to bring the fire under control quickly,” the release said. “There were no civilian or firefighter injuries reported.”

The fire caused about $158,500 in damage and displaced “multiple people,” according to the FCFRD. Smoke alarms did not go off because of the location of the fire.

The local American Red Cross says it assisted 11 families in the wake of the fire.

“Trained disaster workers provided emotional support and financial resources for essentials like safe shelter, food and clothing,” said Ashley Henyan, a spokesperson with the National Capital and Greater Chesapeake Region Red Cross. “Volunteer teams also assisted with replacing medications or medical assistive devices — according to need. In the days and weeks ahead, Red Cross caseworkers will follow up with impacted families as they continue down the road to recovery.”

Henyan says families and individuals affected by this or any other disaster can call 1-800-RED-CROSS for assistance.

Photos courtesy of @xthefirephoto 

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Morning Notes

Verizon truck drives through water while turning from Baron Cameron Avenue to Reston Parkway after rain (photo by Ed Schudel)

Fairfax County Rescue Dog Dies — “We regret to announce the passing of #canine Phayu after a long illness. An 8-year veteran, he deployed worldwide including to quakes in Haiti & Nepal, and hurricanes in the Bahamas & USA. We thank Phayu for his service and extend condolences to his family and our #K9 section.” [Fairfax County Urban Search and Rescue Team/Twitter]

County Firefighters Deliver Free Shoes to Kids — “The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department along with Firefighters and Friends to the Rescue on Thursday gave away more than 300 pairs of new shoes to children and families in need. The giveaways were held at Gum Springs and Lee District community centers in Alexandria.” [ABC7]

Route 28 Lanes Closed for Skewed Sign — A Route 28 sign for the Willard Road exit in Chantilly got knocked out of place during the morning rush hour yesterday (Thursday). Crews had to block off two southbound lanes for almost five hours while they addressed the situation, which required a removal of the sign pole. [VDOT/Twitter]

Free School Meals to End This Fall — “For the past two years, the federal government has provided no-cost meals to all public school students without the need to complete the annual Free and Reduced-Price Meal application. The extension of the no-cost meals benefit to all students is expected to expire at the end of this school year, meaning families must submit an application and be approved to be eligible for free and reduced price meals for the 2022-23 school year.” [FCPS]

McLean Rec Center to Close Tomorrow — “Spring Hill Rec Center will close June 4 through 7 to address electrical maintenance issues. This project was planned for August but has been moved up to ensure continuous site operation and safety.” [Supervisor John Foust/Twitter]

Herndon Man Charged With Assault — A 43-year-old man faces aggravated assault and burglary charges after Herndon police say he allegedly “entered a home in the 600 block of Center Street without permission on May 23 and assaulted one of it occupants.” The man is currently being held without bond at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center. [Patch]

Asian Fusion Eatery Joins Tysons Biergarten — “RollBär, an Asian fusion restaurant, opens TODAY at @shipgarten! Shipgarten, a new pop-up located at the future site of Scotts Run’s ‘Taylor’ block, launched last Thursday with the reopening of #TysonsBiergarten.” [Tysons Partnership/Twitter]

The St. James Plans Maryland Expansion — After unveiling a performance club at Reston Town Center in April, the Springfield-based sports complex announced yesterday (Thursday) that it will bring a similar facility to downtown Bethesda this winter. The new club will be smaller than The St. James’ flagship site, which is the largest athletic facility in the region, but it will include a Vim & Victor Café. [Washingtonian]

Charcoal Chicken Restaurant Coming to West Falls Church — “Super Pollo Charcoal Chicken is moving into the spot vacated by DC Steakholders at 6641 Arlington Blvd…Juan Carlos Hernandez, manager of the Barcroft Plaza Super Pollo expects the new place will open in two to three months.” [Annandale Today]

It’s Friday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 75 and low of 63. Sunrise at 5:46 am and sunset at 8:31 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Eastbound Route 50 is closed at Westmoreland Road after a crash and fuel leak (via VDOT)

Eastbound Route 50 is completely closed in the West Falls Church area, as Fairfax County police and firefighters clean up a vehicle crash and fuel leak.

According to the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, there was a two-vehicle collision near the intersection of Westmoreland and Summerfield roads. A person with a minor injury has been transported to a hospital, department spokesperson William Delaney says.

There was also a “small gas leak from gas tank of one vehicle,” according to Delaney.

All eastbound lanes on Route 50, also known as Arlington Blvd., have been shut down, along with one westbound lane that has been blocked off to accommodate the emergency response vehicles. Traffic going west is creeping by in the right lane.

Delays now stretch back to I-495, according to the Metropolitan Area Transportation Operations Coordination. A detour for eastbound traffic has been put in place, and drivers should follow police directions, according to a Virginia Department of Transportation traffic camera update from 9:05 a.m.

Delaney says it’s currently unclear how long the road closure will last. The FCPD advises avoiding the area.

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Morning Notes

Media crews wait outside the Fairfax County Courthouse for jurors to deliver a verdict in the defamation trial involving actors Amber Heard and Johnny Depp (staff photo by David Taube)

Baby Born at Reston Fire Station Makes Visit — “Today, Station 25, Reston, B-Shift hosted Baby Ivy, who made her entrance into the world in Station 25 parking lot recently, and her big brother, mom and dad. 25-B were thrilled and presented the family w/station shirt/patch. Baby Ivy brought some goodies for the shift!” [FCFRD/Twitter]

TJ Students Reflect on First Year Under New Admissions System — “As the adults did battle in courtrooms, students such as Sarah Castillo were reconsidering their options. Hundreds of students who had neither thought of applying to TJ, nor felt they had a chance of acceptance under the old admissions system, now took the plunge — and some of them, including Sarah, got in.” [The Washington Post]

Burke House Fire Leads to Over $500K in Damages — Smoldering embers dropped in a pile of sawdust ignited a house fire in the 8900 block of Arley Drive on Thursday (May 26) that displaced two people and resulted in $516,075 in damages. Firefighters at the scene saw “heavy fire” through the two-story house’s roof, and one resident got minor injuries. [FCFRD]

Over a Quarter of Primary Mail Ballots Returned — “We’ve had about 28% of #votebymail ballots returned so far in the Democratic primary for the 8th Congressional District. Return your ballot now or #voteearly in person at the Fairfax County Govt. Center” [Fairfax County Office of Elections/Twitter]

West Falls Church Restaurant Closed Permanently — DC Steakholders owners Usman and Lilly Bhatti said in a May 4 message that “inflation, staffing shortages, and rising food costs have taken a toll on our business,” noting that their food trucks and catering business will continue. The restaurant first opened on Arlington Blvd. in April 2019 and served burgers and frozen custard. [Annandale Today]

Reston Food Delivery Business Plans Expansion — “Frolick is a fresh take on food delivery, offering a rotating menu of chef-prepared meals — delivered for now only in Northern Virginia but soon expanding to D.C. and then, perhaps, well beyond…Frolick was born in the summer of 2021 with a big assist from GateGroup, the Swiss-based airline catering giant whose North American headquarters is in Reston.” [DC Inno]

Future Springfield Town Center Hotel Site Sold — “PREIT…announced execution of a purchase and sale agreement for 11 outparcels that will generate gross proceeds in excess of $32 million. The Company also executed an agreement of sale for a vacant parcel at Springfield Town Center set to be developed into a hotel site for $2.5 million as the Company executes on its vision of delivering one-stop destinations for the communities it serves.” [PREIT]

Jefferson Manor Kids Start Pet Directory — “Two sisters in Alexandria, Virginia, created a directory of all the neighborhood pets to raise money for good causes and bring the community together.” There have been 144 different pets submitted to the directory so far. [NBC4]

Free Fishing Day This Weekend — The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources is helping people learn how to fish with an event from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. this Saturday (June 4) at Burke Lake. Equipment and bait are provided, and attendees don’t need to purchase a fishing license. [DWR]

It’s Wednesday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 87 and low of 73. Sunrise at 5:47 am and sunset at 8:30 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Ferris wheel at Viva Vienna 2022 (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Governor Attends Vienna Memorial Day Ceremony — “Vienna residents joined Gov. Glen Youngkin and other dignitaries at the Town Green today to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation. In his remarks, Rear Admiral Fred Kacher noted that for Gold Star families, every day is Memorial Day.” [Town of Vienna/Twitter]

West Falls Church Apartment Fire Displaces Residents — Assisted by Arlington and Fairfax City, Fairfax Count fire investigators are looking into a two-alarm apartment fire that damaged 12 units in the 2900 block of Dover Lane on Sunday (May 29). There were no reported injuries, but an “unknown number” of residents were displaced, including a dog. [FCFRD/Facebook, Twitter]

Transgender Woman Sues Fairfax County Jail — A former inmate at Fairfax County Adult Detention Center alleges in a lawsuit that she was housed with men and experienced harassment after officials learned she was transgender. The case is currently being reviewed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. [The Washington Post]

Lack of Defibrillators Keeps Reston Pools Closed — “Due to supply chain delays, the following five RA pools did not receive new Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) in time for Memorial Day weekend: Autumnwood, Ridge Heights, Hunters Woods, Golf Course Island, and Tall Oaks, according to an RA announcement.” [Patch]

Great Falls Pipeline Project Halted — “The Virginia Department of Transportation on May 24 issued a stop-work order for a Washington Gas pipeline-installation project on Georgetown Pike after receiving complaints from the Great Falls Citizens Association (GFCA).” [Sun Gazette]

Woman Killed in Annandale Crash Was Community Advocate — “[Eileen] Garnett, 83, was a longtime advocate for revitalizing Annandale. On the day of the crash, she was with a group of county and state officials on an inspection tour of Annandale hosted by the Annandale Central Business District Planning Committee.” [Annandale Today]

“Above-Average” Hurricane Season Forecast — “NOAA is forecasting a likely range of 14 to 21 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which six to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including three to six major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher).” [Fairfax County Emergency Information]

Centreville Park Gets Lighting Upgrades — “The Fairfax County Park Authority will begin a basketball lighting upgrade project this week at Chalet Woods Park, located at 14912 Cranoke St., Centreville, in the Sully District. The project scope includes removal of the existing poles and fixtures, followed by installation of new poles, fixtures and a push button for basketball court lights.” [FCPA]

It’s Tuesday — Humid throughout the day. High of 90 and low of 72. Sunrise at 5:47 am and sunset at 8:29 pm. [Weather.gov]

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FBI logo (via FBI)

A federal jury has convicted three gang members of killing a 21-year-old in 2019 after they abducted the man at a Fairfax County shopping plaza.

Peter Le, 24, of Dunn Loring; Young Yoo, 26, of Centreville; and Joseph Lamborn, 28, of California, were convicted in of murder, kidnapping, and other charges on Friday (May 6) in U.S. district court in Alexandria.

Along with Tony Le, 28, of California, the trio was also found guilty of conspiracy to engage in racketeering and narcotics trafficking in what prosecutors said was a drug trafficking conspiracy involving California, Virginia and other states.

The group was part of the Reccless Tigers gang, which originated in Centreville in 2011 and became well known throughout secondary schools in the region as a source for marijuana, vape pens containing THC, and other drugs, according to an indictment.

Prosecutors said a large number of the gang’s distributors and customers were middle school, high school, and college students.

According to court documents, victim Brandon White’s car broke down in January 2019, and gang members abducted him at the former Loehmann’s Plaza in West Falls Church, leaving his body two hours later in a wooded area near Richmond.

In 2015-2016, White obtained marijuana from the gang and owed approximately $10,000 in debt.

The FBI alleged the gang would encourage drug dealers to take on debt and then pressure individuals to work on a California marijuana farm, the Associated Press previously reported.

After White was severely beaten by another gang member in August 2018, he testified against the gang on Nov. 19, 2018, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.

“Peter Le, Young Yoo, and Joseph Lamborn face mandatory life sentences when sentenced on September 9,” the news release said. “Tony Le faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment when he is sentenced of September 9.”

According to the Justice Department, 15 other people have been sentenced, and six are facing sentencing in crimes related to the gang.

Photo via FBI

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Fairfax County Fire and Rescue units respond to a basement fire in the 7000 block of Lee Park Court (via FCFRD/M. Clark)

Four people have been displaced after a ceiling exhaust fan started a fire at a house in the West Falls Church area, the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department reported today (Monday).

With the assistance of firefighters from Arlington County, Fairfax County units were dispatched to the 7000 block of Lee Park Court around 1:28 p.m. on Thursday (April 21) for a fire in a one-story, single-family house.

According to the FCFRD, crews spotted smoke emerging from a basement window upon their arrival and were able to quickly extinguish the fire:

There was no extension of the fire to first floor. There were no reported civilian or firefighter injuries.

No occupants were home at the time of the fire. The homeowner discovered the fire when she returned home and saw smoke coming from the house. She then called 9-1-1. There were no working smoke alarms in the house.

Investigators later determined that a ceiling exhaust fan in the house’s basement bathroom caused an electrical event that ignited the fire, which has been ruled accidental in nature.

While there were no reported injuries, the fire caused approximately $56,250 in property damages.

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Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis announces arrests in the fatal shooting of Falls Church resident Nelson Alexander Sr. (via FCPD/Facebook)

A 19-year-old Falls Church resident and an unidentified 17-year-old have been charged with murder after a shooting in West Falls Church last fall led to the death of 73-year-old Nelson Alexander Sr., Fairfax County police announced today (Monday).

Timothy Kashawn Bradshaw Robinson served as the “getaway driver” in a “botched robbery” at a Wells Fargo walk-up ATM in the 2900 block of Annandale Road, according to Fairfax County Police Department officials.

The 17-year-old suspect, who police say shot Alexander, is being held on unrelated criminal charges in a Baltimore County jail. The Fairfax County Police Department is currently working to get him extradited and anticipates charging him as an adult.

“We’re not identifying the 17-year-old shooter, because he’s not certified as an adult. We anticipate he will be,” Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis said at the press conference.

According to police, Alexander stopped at the ATM around 5:20 a.m. when Robinson, who was 18 at the time, drove up in a Nissan Murano that had been stolen in Alexandria earlier that morning.

Surveillance video shows the teenager, who was 16 at the time, approaching Alexander and shooting him once in the chest, according to Davis. Alexander died from his injuries in a hospital on Oct. 23.

The fatal encounter came at the tail end of “a night of crime” that Robinson and the teenager allegedly spent breaking into vehicles around the D.C. area, FCPD Major Crimes Bureau Chief Maj. Ed O’Carroll said.

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority security cameras captured the pair riding a Metrobus earlier that night accompanied by a third man, who was not involved in the shooting, according to the FCPD.

Police say they were able to identify and track the suspects using the Metro footage and “numerous” tips from the community. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) offered a $10,000 award for information in the case.

In addition to WMATA police and the ATF, the investigation involved law enforcement from D.C., Howard County, Prince George’s County, Arlington County, Loudoun County, and the cities of Alexandria and Fairfax.

“It’s normal to thank partners who assist. I’ve never mentioned so many, and I’ve been doing this for a while,” Davis said. “So, this was really a regional effort that extended beyond the national capital region and into the DMV.”

Robinson was arrested on Friday (April 8), a day after detectives obtained warrants for felony murder and robbery resulting in the death of another person, according to Davis. He is currently being detained at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center.

The 17-year-old has been charged with felony murder, robbery resulting in a death of another person, and the use of a firearm in the event of a felony. He’s currently charged as a juvenile, but that’s expected to change once the extradition from Baltimore County is complete.

Several members of Alexander’s family were present at today’s press conference. Kendra Johnson, his niece, noted that his birthday passed just a few weeks ago. He would’ve been 74 now.

“He was just a great man,” Johnson said. “…We loved him, and we appreciate everyone who worked on this case, and we ask that everyone continue to pray for us.”

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