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A West Potomac High School student has been charged with murder for a fatal shooting outside Nellie’s Sports Bar in D.C. (via Google Maps)

A West Potomac High School student has been charged with murder in connection to a fatal shooting in October outside a D.C. bar.

Ashton Inabinet, a 16-year-old Hybla Valley resident, was arrested yesterday (Wednesday) and charged with second-degree murder while armed for allegedly shooting and killing 24-year-old D.C. resident Diamonte Lewis on Oct. 21, D.C. U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves announced.

Lewis was celebrating his birthday when the shooting broke out around 3:38 a.m., possibly following a fight, outside Nellie’s Sports Bar at the corner of 9th and U Streets NW, according to news and police reports.

Officers with the Metropolitan Police Department responded to the scene and found Lewis suffering from gunshot wounds, unconscious and unresponsive. He was pronounced dead at 3:50 a.m., leaving behind two children.

According to a police affidavit, Inabinet was identified as one of two people who fired shots that morning through surveillance video footage and an anonymous tip provided on Nov. 14. Both suspects were traced to Virginia schools, and West Potomac’s school resource officer confirmed Inabinet’s identity to detectives based on a “distinctive headband” seen in the surveillance video.

However, the MPD alleges in court documents that, without coordinating with detectives, Fairfax County police and Fairfax County Public Schools officials “essentially tipped off” Inabinet that he was under investigation, giving him time to confiscate evidence.

On Tuesday, November 28, 2023, West Potomac High School ordered Fairfax County Police to go to the defendant’s residence and notify them that the defendant was not allowed to return to school in reference to a D.C. investigation. This information provided the defendant approximately a week to remove evidence from the residence, such as clothing, 9mm semi-automatic pistol and/or 9mm ammunition of the same brand used during the homicide.

In statements first reported by WUSA9, the Fairfax County Police Department and FCPS said Inabinet was banned from school as a safety measure after MPD homicide detectives informed the West Potomac school resource officer on Nov. 28 that they intended to pursue charges against a student.

From the FCPD:

MPD homicide detectives appeared at a Fairfax County high school on Tuesday, November 28, interacted with a School Resource Officer and stated their intention to eventually pursue criminal charges against a Fairfax County high school student for a recent firearm murder in their jurisdiction. MPD detectives had not yet obtained criminal charges. We delivered a letter authored by Superintendent Dr. Michelle Reid banning the student, a murder suspect, from school until we received further information. This is a preventive action we own and stand by. The Fairfax County Police Department has a duty and responsibility to protect our students.

Reid says FCPS supports the FCPD’s actions.

“The safety of our schools remains our top priority and we will always act swiftly to protect our students and staff,” Reid said. “We continue to work collaboratively with Fairfax County Police, who are partners in this work, and we are in agreement with their statement.”

Inabinet pleaded not guilty at an arraignment yesterday in D.C. Superior Court. He’s currently in custody at the D.C. Central Detention Facility without bond after a judge “found probable cause that the defendant committed the murder,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office of D.C.

A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for next Wednesday, Dec. 13.

Image via Google Maps. Hat tip to Romeo (@RVANOVA01).

Falls Church High School entrance (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

(Updated at 12:45 p.m. on 6/16/2023) As Pride Month got underway, a pair of hate incidents targeting the LGBTQ community shook up Falls Church and West Potomac high schools.

At Falls Church High School (7521 Jaguar Trail) in West Falls Church, a student admitted to stealing a rainbow Pride flag from the school and burning it, principal Ben Nowak said in a message to the school community on June 6.

According to Nowalk’s letter, a circulating video that the student recorded of the flag burning captured “another young person…using homophobic and hate-filled language towards the LGBTQ+ community.”

Nowalk emphasized that Fairfax County Public Schools and Falls Church High School “will not tolerate this kind of behavior” as it goes against “the kind of school community we seek to cultivate.”

“Each and every student in FCHS has the right to feel safe and affirmed in our school,” he wrote. “June is Pride Month, when we recognize the resilience and determination of the many individuals who are fighting to live freely and authentically. We stand with those facing an ongoing struggle against discrimination and injustice. This is sadly more evident today given this hateful act.”

An FCPS spokesperson indicated that the student has been disciplined, but the school system can’t share further details due to federal laws protecting the privacy of students and families.

“Please know we take such incidents of hate seriously and appropriate disciplinary actions are always taken,” FCPS spokesperson Julie Moult said.

The Fairfax County Police Department confirmed that the theft of the Pride flag, which was displayed outside a classroom trailer, was reported to its school resource officer (SRO) at the school.

“The SRO determined that a juvenile stole the flag,” the FCPD said. “The SRO discovered that the flag was reportedly burned by another juvenile. The juveniles have been referred to the juvenile justice system.”

Also last week, graffiti with messages described as antisemitic and homophobic was painted on the “spirit rock” outside West Potomac High School (6500 Quander Road) in Belle Haven, according to a message to families from principal Dr. Tanganyika Millard.

The graffiti was discovered the morning of June 7, when the community gathered at the school for the Class of 2023 graduation ceremony.

“It has always been a point of pride that we live in a diverse and caring community,” Millard wrote. “To see these symbols of hate at the space that welcomes others to our school is devastating. We will make every effort to find those responsible and hold them accountable.”

The FCPD said it doesn’t have a record of any reports of antisemitic graffiti at West Potomac High School last week.

In response to the incidents, FCPS Pride, an advocacy organization for LGBTQIA students, staff, family and allies, announced earlier this week that it will hold a Pride Rally Against Hate at Luther Jackson Middle School (3020 Gallows Road) in Merrifield today (Thursday).

The rally will take place from 5:30 to 7 p.m. before the Fairfax County School Board’s meeting, which will include a proclamation honoring Pride Month.

“Hate incidents…against all communities have been accelerating in FCPS, and we demand by our presence that the system take action,” FCPS Pride said in a media advisory.

Moult confirmed that FCPS is currently developing a system for tracking hate and bias incidents, as previously reported by WTOP.

The school system announced last month that it would hire an investigator to look into an anonymous email that complained about Oakton High School’s former Black cheerleading coaches.

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Across Fairfax County and Virginia, thousands of students walked out today (Tuesday) in protest of proposed state policies that would limit schools’ ability to support transgender and other gender-nonconforming students.

Students from more than 90 schools, including nearly 30 in Fairfax County, took a stand against policies introduced earlier this month by Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin regulating everything from which bathroom a student can use to the definition of “the phrase ‘transgender student.'”

The walkout protests were organized by the Pride Liberation Project, a student-led organization that advocates for the LQBTQ+ community in schools. The group aims to persuade the governor to revoke the draft policies, which are now open for public comment through Oct. 26.

Since the policies were announced more than a week ago, local school districts, board members, and elected officials have questioned and overwhelmingly come out against policies that would severely curtail the rights of and support that school districts can give transgender students.

Fairfax County Public Schools said last week that it was “reviewing” the proposed policies and reiterated a commitment to supporting LGBTQ students.

Today, though, it was students’ turn to make their voices heard.

At West Potomac High School in Belle Haven, an estimated 1,000 students walked out at 10 a.m. in protest. They filed into bleachers on the football field, while speakers shared their experiences and why they personally would be affected by the new policies.

“As a trans [person], I have been discriminated against for my gender identity and was told it was wrong. That I was wrong,” said a West Potomac High School senior. “These policies are just a new case of this happening.”

“I can’t be a student if I don’t know what name my teacher is going to call me,” said another student.

Mara Surovell, one of the lead organizers for the West Potomac High School walkout, hopes it will encourage Youngkin to not implement the policies or, at the very least, allow school districts the authority to continue to implement their own guidance.

“Most of my friends are transgender and my sister is also transgender. So it affects all people I love. And I don’t want any of my friends to feel like school is an unsafe place,” Surovell told FFXnow. “I don’t want to see…their mental health plummet because of these policies, and I really just want them to feel safe and loved, and I don’t think that’ll happen if these policies get approved.”

Students involved in walkouts at South Lakes High School in Reston and Marshall High School in Idylwood shared similar thoughts.

Rishi Chandra, a South Lakes junior, said that he has personally seen how well trans and nonbinary students can do in school when they feel safe, but if the new policies get approved, they will “harm queer students.” Read More

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Morning Notes

Insomnia Cookies has a line for its grand opening at University Mall in Fairfax (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Judge Orders Records Release in Reston Homicide Case — Fairfax County Circuit Judge Brett A. Kassabian denied a motion to seal records related to a double homicide that occurred in Reston in 2017. In a case that may not see trial until mid-2023, Nicholas Giampa has been indicted on murder charges in the shooting and killing of his girlfriend’s mother and stepfather. [The Washington Post]

Driver Charged in Route 1 Hit-and-Run — “Detectives from our Crash Reconstruction Unit have charged the driver of the 2007 Toyota Camry from the July 6 fatal pedestrian crash. The driver, Diego Juarez Gomez, 19, of Maryland was traveling south on Richmond Highway, struck McPhail in the roadway and did not stop at the scene.” [FCPD]

Former West Potomac HS Soccer Coach Cleared of Hazing Allegation — A Fairfax County Child Protective Services investigation recently cleared Ahmad Sasso of wrongdoing during his 8-year tenure as head coach of West Potomac High School’s soccer team. A parent accused him in April of “hazing a player to the point of injury,” prompting his resignation. [ABC7]

Tree Falls Through Oakton House — “A house in Fairfax County is damaged after a massive tree fell on it Saturday night. Officials say that the house impacted is on the 11600 block of Ayreshire Rd. in Oakton, Virginia and that damages are extensive. No one was at the home when the tree hit the colonial-style house because officials say that the owners were out of town for vacation.” [WUSA9]

Man Threatens Sports Bar in Centreville — A 31-year-old man faces multiple charges after allegedly threatening to burn down The Revolution (14114 Lee Highway) on July 16. The man was trespassed and then arrested when he returned later, displaying a handgun. No injuries were reported in connection to the incident. [FCPD]

Sidewalk Replacement Today in Vienna — “A sidewalk replacement project is scheduled to take place this upcoming Monday, July 25 (weather permitting) along Courthouse Road between 423 Courthouse Road and 429 Courthouse Road. Traffic patterns may be affected along this route. Please use caution.” [Town of Vienna/Twitter]

CIA Marks 75th Anniversary Tomorrow — “The Central Intelligence Agency in Langley is turning 75-years-young on Tuesday, July 26…Not everyone was happy McLean was chosen as the location for the headquarters. Northern Virginians pushed back at the powers that be to the point that they considered building it where the Kennedy Center is now.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Retired Nationals Star Buys McLean Mansion — “Following his retirement from the Washington Nationals, Ryan Zimmerman is making real estate moves. Property records show that the former slugger paid $11 million for a brand-new build in McLean, VA. The purchase comes after the All-Star listed his longtime home in Great Falls, VA, in April for $8.5 million.” [Realtor]

It’s Monday — Rain in the afternoon and evening. High of 87 and low of 76. Sunrise at 6:05 am and sunset at 8:28 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Blossoms are out at Lewinsville Park in McLean (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

West Potomac Soccer Coaches Fired After Hazing — “In a message to West Potomac High School soccer families, Principal Tanganyika Millard said that after an April 21 practice, a ‘parent reported a student was injured after being singled out to run through a ‘gauntlet/tunnel.” Head coach Ahmad Sasso and two other coaches were fired after the incident.” [WTOP]

Dead Firefighter Escorted to Funeral Home — “#FCFRD members gathered to salute Captain Kimberly Schoppa during her dignified transfer. Units from her last assignment, Fire Station 27, West Springfield, carried her to the funeral home. Thank you to Fairfax County Police Department for the escort.” [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department/Facebook]

FCPS Alum Goes to Space — NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren, a graduate of Robinson Secondary School, is part of a four-person crew that was scheduled to blast off to the International Space Station this morning (Wednesday) for SpaceX’s next mission. Lindgren was one of 18 astronauts selected by NASA in 2020 for its Artemis Team, an initiative to get humans back to the moon. [Florida Today]

Alpacas Make Fairfax County Courthouse Appearance — “By the time the alpacas arrive outside the Fairfax County Courthouse, it’s not really that surprising…The scene outside the Depp-Heard trial, entering its third week on Monday, has transformed the Fairfax County court complex from a place where Northern Virginia residents contest parking tickets to the stage for one of the biggest celebrity court cases in recent memory.” [The Washington Post]

TJ Tops National School Rankings — “Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax County was ranked No. 1 in the nation, according to a new national ranking by U.S. News and World Report. This year’s list of best high schools evaluated more than 17,800 schools nationwide, including 322 in Virginia.” [Patch]

Vienna Students Write Cards for Ukrainian Refugees — “Students at Freedom Hill Elementary School in Vienna wrote stacks of cards to Ukrainian refugees for their principal to deliver on his spring break trip to Germany. Principal Nicholas Zapadka…decided to travel to Cologne in early April to help Ukrainian refugees who had arrived at a Red Cross refugee camp in Germany.” [Patch]

Mantua Home with Squatter Sold — “The home went off the market on April 15 for $805,000. It was built in 1964 and was last sold in 1997 for $319,000. The owner’s name was withheld by request on the Fairfax County auditor’s site. The new buyer’s name also was not listed.” [WUSA9]

It’s Wednesday — Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 55 and low of 41. Sunrise at 6:17 am and sunset at 7:59 pm. [Weather.gov]

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