Arlington, VA

(Updated at 12:10 a.m.) Arlington County Police responded en masse to an incident at the Ballston Quarter mall Saturday night.

In a 8:50 p.m. emergency alert, Arlington County described the incident as a “possible shooting.” Initial reports suggest a panic at the Regal Cinemas movie theater after a group of teens started shouting about an active shooter.

No evidence of a shooting has thus been found, though police are continuing to search the theater.

The panic prompted people to flee and hide, though many sheltered in place in the theaters. In the Quarter Market food hall, below the mall, police responded to a report of people who had locked themselves in freezers. Some neighboring businesses including the Shake Shack across the street locked their doors while customers sought shelter.

One person suffered a minor injury as the mall was evacuated, police said.

Speaking to reporters, a group of Yorktown High School students who were watching IT Chapter 2 in the theater said the screen suddenly went blank and officers entered the theater, saying they were investigating a possible active shooter.

Video shows the students and other patrons walking out of the theater with their hands above their head, at the direction of police.

“It was scarier than the actual movie,” one teen said.

Another video, taken from across the street from the mall shortly after the initial report of a shooter, shows people running from the mall as sirens blared.

The panic spread as police responded to at least two other reports of armed suspects along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor.

Around 9:15 p.m., numerous officers responded to the Uncle Julio’s restaurant in Ballston for an unconfirmed report of either a man with a gun or an active shooting. Scanner traffic later suggested that it was actually an angry customer, not a shooting.

Earlier, police also responded to the Clarendon Trader Joe’s for a report of a man with a gun and body armor. A suspect was detained but later released after an investigation determined he was legally open carrying a gun, a police spokeswoman said.

The U.S. Park Police Eagle 1 helicopter could be seen flying overhead Ballston during the incident, assisting with the search for any possible suspects, but was later cleared to return to D.C. Park Police, Metro Transit Police, Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority Police, the Federal Protective Service and Falls Church Police were among the law enforcement agencies that responded to the initial shooting reports with ACPD.

Roads around the mall are blocked by police. Officers have cleared crowds of pedestrians from outside the front of the mall, though many — including large groups of mall employees — were still standing along Wilson Blvd on either side of the mall more than an hour after the first 911 call.

There is no timetable for the mall, its parking garage and the roads around the mall reopening, Arlington County Police spokeswoman Ashley Savage told ARLnow shortly after 10 p.m., noting that officers were still conducting a “thorough” search of the building.

Video (top) courtesy Gibson L. Video (below) courtesy Naki Mendoza. Screenshot via @JasonSurbey/Twitter.

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This content was written and sponsored by The Keri Shull Team, Arlington’s top producing residential real estate team.

In the latest Neighborhood Spotlight, Jamie FitzGerald of The Keri Shull Team gives us the details on The Local Oyster in Ballston.

Whether you are a hardcore oyster fan or completely new to the shucked shellfish, there’s something for you at The Local Oyster.

The roots of The Local Oyster are clear from the name, according to manager Will Brewster, who says that they “started about four years ago […] shucking oysters on the side of the road.” In the time since, the Local Oyster opened its first permanent location in Baltimore, before bringing their delicious fare to join the other great spots in Ballston Quarter several months ago.

The oyster experts have made sure that their featured critters are indeed local, including their house oyster, the Skinny Dipper. This Maryland catch, which Brewster describes as an “intersection of briny and sweet,” joins a wide selection of oysters from the DMV area and beyond.

For those of you who are not fans of raw oysters, don’t worry! The Local Oyster’s robust menu boasts a full complement of mouth-watering seafood, including steamed jumbo gulf shrimp, whole lobsters and a crab cake that was touted as one of the twenty best in Baltimore — high praise indeed!

The local focus extends beyond the seafood, too! The Local Oyster is quickly gaining a name as a spot for craft beer lovers, with a rotating tap of local craft brews. The hip joint also offers a robust list of spirits, making it one of the only places in the Ballston Quarter to boast a full bar.

In particular, Brewster recommends the Crush, a drink that The Local Oyster brought with them from Baltimore. This drink, which features freshly hand-squeezed juices, is a perfect refreshment as we reach the end of the hot summer.

The Local Oyster has plenty of specials to enjoy throughout the week, including Happy Hour and Dollar Oyster Days — and Brewster is hoping to add to that list in the near future.

No matter if you’re looking to shoot back some local oysters and high quality spirits, or just shoot the breeze with your pals over a craft beer, make sure to check out The Local Oyster in Ballston Quarter.

Are you interested in living in Ballston, or any of the wonderful surrounding neighborhoods? Contact The Keri Shull Team at 703-952-7653 or [email protected], and we’ll help put you in a home to meet all of your needs!

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An employee of the county’s parks department has been arrested and charged with touching a girl inappropriately at a local rec center.

Arlington County Police are trying to find possible additional victims of Walter Contreras, a 42-year-old Arlington resident, after police say he followed a girl into a room at the Barcroft Recreation Center and touched her sexually.

The incident happened in late August but was reported to police earlier this week, police said. Contreras has been charged with Aggravated Sexual Battery, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

More from an ACPD press release:

The Arlington County Police Department’s Special Victims Unit is seeking possible additional victims of a suspect charged with a sex offense. Walter Contreras, 42, of Arlington, VA, was arrested and charged with Aggravated Sexual Battery. He is being held without bond in the Arlington County Detention Facility.

On September 10, 2019, Arlington County Police received a late report of a possible sexual assault that occurred at Barcroft Recreation Center, 4200 S. Four Mile Run Drive, in late August. The investigation determined that the suspect, who was working as an Arlington County Parks and Recreation employee at the time of the incident, asked the juvenile female victim to accompany him to one of the rooms inside the recreation center. Once there, the suspect approached the victim from behind and inappropriately touched her.

Anyone with past inappropriate encounters with this suspect or who has additional information related to this investigation is asked to contact Detective J. Echenique of the Arlington County Police Department’s Special Victims Unit at 703-228-4241 or [email protected] Information may also be provided anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

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(This Community Post was written by and underwritten by The Fred Schnider Investment Group/Fred Schnider Gallery of Art and Embracing Arlington Arts supporter Annie Sweeney.)

Our family company found that building a quality art gallery in our community as a pure, lively exhibition space, has been extremely rewarding and brings together all walks of life from our neighborhood and beyond. We urge other developers throughout Arlington to set aside permanent retail space for community events and art exhibition.

We opened the gallery without any experience but with lots of support from the vibrant Arlington art community, including artists, the Arlington Arts Center, Embracing Arlington Arts, multiple Arlington County agencies and many of our local curators who were excited to teach us how to be seasoned gallerists.

The Fred Schnider Gallery of Art has activated the Liberty Center streetscape and introduced us to new friends and the deeply talented Arlington art community. The gallery finishes and thoughtful and versatile design by preeminent Arlington architecture firm ASD/Sky are symbols of our long-term commitment to this wonderful experience.

Submit your own community post here.

ARLnow Weekend Discussion

After a brief resurgence of sweltering summer, more fall-like weather is here, ahead of what should be a pretty nice weekend.

Despite a relatively slow second week of September, compared to the usual frenetic pace of things this time of year, there were a number of stories of note over the past five days.

Here were the most-read articles of the week:

  1. Amazon Holding ‘Career Day’ in Crystal City
  2. Hula Girl Closing in Shirlington
  3. Man Shot on Columbia Pike Early Thursday Morning
  4. Pedestrian Dies After Crash Near Nottingham Elementary
  5. Police Searching for Thieves Who Burglarized Home While Family Was Inside
  6. Opening Nears for New Harris Teeter Store on the Pike
  7. You May Be Able to Take Your Drink to Go Near HQ2
  8. As MONA Membership Grows, So Does Its Public Outreach
  9. An Indoor Running Studio Is Coming to Clarendon

Feel free to discuss those stories, your tales of Friday the 13th bad luck, or anything else of local interest in the comments below.

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5th Annual Jennifer Bush-Lawson 5K & Family Fun Day

The Jennifer Bush-Lawson 5K & Family Fun Day carries on the legacy of Jenn Lawson, a mom of three and dedicated runner who was passionate about making available to all mothers the same level of care she received for her own

Next week an Army Navy Country Club employee will celebrate her 100th birthday.

Hattie Louise Jones will turn 100 years old on Sunday, Sept. 22, and the centennial will be celebrated at the golf club with a party for her family and friends.

For nearly 40 years, Jones has worked as a coat room attendant for the country club, where she greets guests — many of which she has known for decades.

“Turning 100 years old is unbelievable to me,” said Jones, as quoted by her family. “I can still work, drive and exercise, which are my favorite activities. My life is so blessed with a wonderful family, friends and coworkers.”

(Jones’ son, Clarence McGill, was one of the Syracuse 8, who spoke up against racial discrimination at the cost of their football careers.)

Jones was born on September 22, 1919, in Florence, South Carolina. She grew up in Ithaca, New York and worked at IBM before retiring and moving to D.C. Shortly after moving, she left retirement to begin working at the country club.

“Hattie is one of our longest serving employees,” said Captain John C. Tuck, chairman of the golf club, in a press release. “Her dedication to the club and her genuine love for so many of its members helps make Army Navy such a very special place.”

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Next week, Arlington will participate in two transit and environmental events: PARK(ing) Day and Try Transit Week.

PARK(ing) Day will transform 13 parking spaces around the county into pop-up parks, while Try Transit Week encourages residents to use public transit.

For Try Transit Week — which runs from Sept. 16-20 — the “ART Prize Patrol” will ride various ART routes to surprise passengers with giveaway items. Additionally, the ART bus fare will be free for all passengers on Thursday, Sept. 19.

On Friday, Sept. 20, Arlington will  — as in years past — celebrate PARK(ing) Day, described as an “annual international event where the public collaborates to temporarily transform parking spaces into small parks to elicit a reconsideration of the designation of public space.”

Participants this year include a “Sit Up to Climate Change” pop-up park at Ballston Quarter mall, presented by the Ballston Business Improvement District’s charity arm, BallstonGives, and the urban planning firm LandDesign. From 9 a.m.-3 p.m., trainers from OneLife Fitness will be onsite guiding park guests through a series of sit ups. For every sit up completed, five cents will be donated to the Arlington Friends of Urban Agriculture.

Additional pop-ups include a “Mind and Body Oasis” from the Crystal City BID with a yoga area and chair massages, plus a “Water Theme Park” from the Department of Environmental Services near Columbia Pike.

The full list of PARK(ing) Day sites can is listed below.

  • AECOM — 2940 Clarendon Blvd — “Park and Ride.”
  • Arlington Art — 2099 15th Street N. — “Celebrate the Mural,” featuring local artist Marc Pekala.
  • Ballston BID & OneLife Fitness — 4238 Wilson Blvd — “Sit-Up Challenge,” raising money for AFUA.
  • Bike Arlington & Walk Arlington — 1735 N. Lynn Street — “Relax and Engage,” with massage area, games, and outreach.
  • Crystal City BID & March of Dimes — 2200 Crystal Drive — “Lounge Area” with smoothies and healthy snacks, focusing on well-being for mothers.
  • Crystal City BID & Freddie’s — 500 23rd Street S. — “Beach Oasis” with games and relaxation.
  • Crystal City BID & Mind and Body Oasis — 2200 Crystal Drive — “Zen Garden,” with yoga area and chair massages.
  • Crystal City BID & GW Sustainable Urban Planning Student Organization — 2200 Crystal City, “Learn and Play,” urban heat island effect and climate change.
  • Dept. of Environmental Services, Public Engagement — 100 S. Walter Reed Drive — “Water Theme Park,” children’s pool with inflatables and water education table.
  • Dept. of Environmental Services, Solid Waste Bureau — 4115 Campbell Drive — “Back to the Future II,” kitchen display showcasing how to reduce waste.
  • Dept. of Environmental Services, Traffic Engineering & Operations, Commuter Services/Dept. of Parks & Recreation — 2300 Clarendon Blvd — “Obstacle Course,” scooter safety set-up, DES outreach, relax area.
  • HDR Architecture & Animal Welfare League of Arlington — 1109/1101 N. Highland Street — “Dog Training,” hourly dog behavior and training demonstrations
  • Little Diversified Architectural Consulting — 1046 N. Taylor Street — “Relax Lounge.”

“Events like PARK(ing) Day enrich our community life by creating an inviting streetscape and by promoting activities that allow for social exchange, fun, creativity and critical thinking,” the county said on its website. “PARK(ing) Day in particular can furthermore promote a rethinking of the usage of the public-right-of-way and may motivate the public to more actively participate in the civic processes which shape our urban environment.”

PARK(ing) Day began in 2005 when San Francisco art studio Rebar transformed a metered parking space into a temporary park. Since then, parking day has grown into an annual nationwide event.

Photo via Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services

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As some indicators point toward another recession around the corner, local economists say Arlington would likely escape the brunt of a downturn.

The recession that kicked off after the country’s housing market collapsed in 2008 devastated communities and families nationwide. But experts say Arlington’s proximity to jobs and contracts from the federal government helped protect the county, and its growing business sector today may also help shield it from future recessions.

How the Great Recession Hit Arlington 

Alex Iams, the Interim Director of Arlington Economic Development (AED), said when it came to the last recession, Arlington was “the last in and the first out.”

“In the last recession Arlington fared pretty well from what I can see,” agreed George Morgan, a finance professor at Virginia Tech, in an interview. “It’s not to say that everything was rosy, but compared to other parts of the country, Arlington didn’t do so badly.”

“At least a third of the [local] economy originates with federal payroll or federal procurement spending or other government spending,” said Stephen Fuller, the high-profile professor of public policy and regional development at George Mason University, when asked what helped cushion Arlington during the collapse.

However, Morgan noted that office and multi-family developments saw “pretty dramatic effects” from the recession as he said some companies’ cash-flows dried up and projects were put on pause. That affected those in the real estate development and construction industries.

Morgan also noted that the education and medical sector were hit harder in Arlington than in other parts of the country, but also rebounded faster in the last 10 years. “That’s a big plus if that happens again,” he said of future recessions.

Both economists agreed that lower-wage jobs were hit hardest by the Great Recession. By 2011, the county’s largest food bank reported a record-breaking number of families seeking help.

“In the low wage industries, Arlington basically looks the same as the rest of the country,” said Morgan, of Arlington around that time. “That was not a pretty picture.”

But Fuller and AED director Iams argued that the economic impact on the county of losing 35,000 jobs through federal sequestration was greater. “Base realignment and closure was really our recession,” said Iams.

How Next Recession May Affect Arlington

While predicting economic downturns can be fraught, Iams and the professors agreed the country is prepared if another one happens soon.

“In Arlington, they’re not seeing the signs of [a] recession that you’re seeing it elsewhere,” said Morgan. “It maybe be that Arlington kind of dodges a bullet if there is a next recession.”

The damage the county would sustain would depend on what exactly would cause the next recession.

“If it’s the trade war that causes it, retail will probably suffer,” said Morgan. “But with the Arlington economy being so insulated from trade, I think if that’s the cause of a recession then the Arlington economy will still do well.”

Fuller explained that “anything that is discretionary begins to take a hit,” including elective purchases like cosmetic surgery, luxury fashion, tourism, and restaurants.

But the professors pointed out that many higher-wage industries — like cybersecurity, which is growing across the D.C. area — can actually weather recessions quite well. Morgan cited an Urban Institute report show that the county has a large share of high-paying jobs from business service companies like Deloitte and government contracting jobs via the Department of Defense.

How Amazon Would Impact a Recession

Iams noted that the county has since 2008 added even more corporate jobs as companies like Lidl, Nestle, and Amazon moved into town.

When it comes to Amazon’s massive planned headquarters, the officials said it’s another potential insulator for the county against future recessions by virtue of the 25,000 people it has pledged to hire — and the others businesses and universities its presence attracts to Arlington.

“They know that Amazon burns workers out after 4-5 years, and they’re still software engineers, so they’ll look around for other, similar-type jobs,” said Fuller. “Amazon is going to make Arlington the epicenter of the talent pool.”

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This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway). Sign up for Nick’s email newsletter and also receive exclusive discounts and offers.

Part of my job is to constantly find new beers to stock.

I like those beers, of course, but occasionally a beer comes along that really gets me. This happened recently with the new Black Rice Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company. At only 3.8% ABV, it ticks the “session” box; as a year-round, it ticks the “if you make something good, make it available all the time” box; it’s tasty as hell, so it ticks the “tasty as hell” box.

There’s only so much information online about Black Rice Ale, so I asked our local AVBC rep if he had anything else to pass along. What he did was put me in touch with Fal Allen, AVBC’s brewmaster since 2000 and an industry veteran who started his pro career at Redhook in 1988. Yes, I was excited to chat.

Allen told me he had tried Chinese black rice, aka Forbidden or Emperor’s rice, in a dish. “I had no idea what it was but the rich nutty flavor was compelling. I immediately thought that it would work well in a beer.” AVBC’s site describes Black Rice as a Nut Brown, in fact.

I asked Allen if the intent actually was to make a Nut Brown or if they were searching for a style to suit the black rice. “It was really a matter of finding a style that the beer fit into,” he responded, adding “it is not really a nut brown ale but people want to know what it is like… we thought that it was closest to a nut brown ale.”

Allen noted they could also have compared it to Schwarzbier, but being neither German in style, nor a Lager ruled that out “although the beer certainly tastes like a schwartz bier.”

This hit on what, to me, is probably the most intriguing aspect of Black Rice Ale — how it melds roasty flavors of Black Ales and Lagers with the nuttier tones of American and English Browns. I wondered what the black rice actually brought to the beer besides being a cool ingredient to throw in the mash. Allen said the rice gives the beer its “delicious dark color,” and “a nice nutty flavor,” and doesn’t think it contributed anything to the beer’s aroma.

Remembering how the 2014 release of AVBC’s Gose sparked a new era for the brewery (and for Sour Ales in America in general), and noticing that Black Rice arrives at the same time as the brewery’s Barrel-Aged Stouts and Porters moving from bombers to cans and the introduction of its new Hibiscus Rozelle, I asked Allen if we were seeing another instance of Anderson Valley not quite reinventing itself, but refocusing.

“I agree it does feel a little like that, but I think it was more to do with a change in attitude,” he explained. “We are not trying to reinvent ourselves so much as we are trying to get our products out to market a little better.” The unpainted cans AVBC uses allows them to more quickly take what may be initially a draft-only offering and get it out to a wider audience if the response is good.

With bottle sales way down and cans on the rise on the East Coast, that promises more cool AVBC beers on the horizon. For now, check out Black Rice Ale if you see it around.

Upcoming Beer Events at Arrowine:

TODAY — Friday, September 13, 5-7 p.m. — Tom Blanch of Sierra Nevada
Saturday, September 21, 1-4 p.m. — Devon Callan of Reason Beer Company
Saturday, October 5, 12-3 p.m. — Patrick Cashin of Charm City Meadworks
Friday, November 8, 5-7 p.m. — Jesse Ploeg of Potter’s Craft Cider

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