Tysons, VA

Geovanny Alexander Mejia Castro was working his shift as at Diva Lounge (6763 Wilson Blvd.) in the back corner of the Eden Center last Friday when he was shot and killed, police announced today.

Police announced today that they arrested a suspect, Elser Galeano Herrera, 28, at his sister’s home in Mississippi today. Herrera will be transported back to Virginia, according to police.

In the press release, police said the murder was believed to be in retaliation for an earlier assault at the night club that did not involve Castro.

“The death of Mr. Castro is tragic,” said Police Chief Mary Gavin. “I’m proud of the swift and meticulous investigation that lead to the identification and location of the suspect. We are thankful for the assistance of a number of agencies in helping us find and arrest him.”

Full press release below:

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Despite Eli Lev’s global popularity, the musician holds his Northern Virginia hometown roots in high regard.

Born and raised in Falls Church, the hybrid folk-singer quit his day job around roughly three years ago to pursue music after playing his first few shows at Tryst in Adams Morgan, D.C. and other small venues in the Northern Virginia area.

To this day, Lev said that one of his favorite venues is still the Jammin Java in Vienna, because of its support for upcoming artists.

“The origin story is more of a haphazard journey,” Lev said, adding that he picked up instruments “here and there” before he moved back to the region after living in Andora — a small European country. For him, music and shared culture was a way for him to reconnect with friends and family after living abroad.

In the three years since he began playing professional gigs, Lev has toured the United States and Europe and recently released his album Deep South. The album was inspired by Native American culture he learned about while teaching on the Navajo Nation in Northern Arizona and is part of a four-album series about his travels.

The last album in the series “True North” will likely come out later this year, Lev said.

Lev’s music style, though continuing to evolving, was primarily inspired by his adventures around the world. Singer and songwriter-style music was attractive to Lev because it allowed him to travels around with an acoustic guitar and make connections with other travelers.

“It seemed like a natural fit,” he said.

Since first starting, Lev said he also began to experiment with indie-folk, pop and even jazz elements.

People around the D.C. area may recognize Lev from local Sofar Sound Concerts, which he makes regular appearances at. Sofar Sound Concerts are pop-up concerts where attendees are asked to gather at a random location across town to see a surprise lineup of artists. The concept has become increasingly popular over the last few years and has grown internationally.  “I was lucky to come across the whole community as a listener first,” Lev said.

Because of the ongoing pandemic though, Lev hasn’t given up performing and instead has taken to performing at outdoor venues and on live streams.

“They’ve carried me through this crazy time essentially,” he said.

Additionally, Lev has set up a virtual community for followers and fans called “The Levitators,” which allows people to connect with Lev, giving them sneak-peeks to new songs, live streams and access to new merchandise. In return, Lev said that he receives valuable feedback.

“Super cheesy, I know,” Lev said. “But that’s how I roll.”

Anyone who wants to join The Levitators can sign up online. Membership is international, Lev said, adding that he knows of members from Brazil, India, UK, Israel and Mexico.

This weekend (Sept. 19 and 20) Lev will actually be performing at a live stream festival called DREAM STREAM. Tickets and a schedule can be found online.

Photo courtesy Eli Lev

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In lieu of being able to serve the community in-person, members of Falls Church-based Dulin United Methodist Church started a monthly charity project led by their pastor, Dave Kirkland.

Since July, the congregation has chosen a different charity to support each month by raising funds for those in need.

“We pick up a different ministry each month and see how it hits the spirits of people and how they respond,” Kirkland said.

Though the charities range in geographic location and purpose, the July donation to Homestretch benefited people within Falls Church’s own community.

Not only did churchgoers and a variety of other donors raise $100,000 which will support the charity’s mission to help disadvantaged families find housing and sustainable lives, but the group was also able to donate $7,200 worth of gift cards and put together care packages with toiletries for 28 local families, according to Kirkland.

Many of the people which received help thanks to the donations are entry-level frontline workers, Kirkland said, and many are also survivors of human trafficking or abuse.

“We knew a lot of these folks probably lost their job and COVID has really affected their lives, so we made a plea,” Kirkland said.  “They [Homestretch] support their families through skills, knowledge and hope. We couldn’t help with skills or knowledge but we could help with hope.”

In August, Dulin United Methodist also raised $17,000 for a group called Free Minds Book Club, which is a D.C. based organization that encourages incarcerated youth to develop a passion for literature.

This month, congregation members will be supporting a charity in Sierra Leone which works to set up infrastructure in the country which was destroyed by civil war, according to Kirkland.

Anyone interested in supporting the church’s mission can donate online.

Photo via Dulin United Methodist Church/Facebook

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Police are investigating a homicide that took place early this morning (Friday) at Diva Lounge (6763 Wilson Blvd), a nightclub tucked into a back corner of the Eden Center strip mall.

Police responded to a 911 call about a shooting at approximately 12:05 a.m. When police and medics arrived they found a male victim deceased from a gunshot wound.

“Witnesses to the incident report the suspect shot the victim then fled the scene on foot,” police said. “The suspect is described as a Hispanic male in his 30s, with dark hair, who was wearing black shorts and a blue polo shirt. There is no camera or video footage of the suspect available at this time.”

Police said the incident remains an active criminal investigation, but that they do not believe there is a continuing threat to the community.

“If you witnessed or have any information regarding this incident, please call Detective Darian Chuquillangui at (703) 248-5165,” police said.

Photo via Google Maps

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Falls Church and Fairfax County officials are revisiting efforts to rename schools with names linked to the Confederacy as communities across the U.S. tackle a racial reckoning.

The resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of police killing George Floyd in Minneapolis has reignited discussions of how buildings, monuments and places with Confederate ties perpetuate racial oppression.

The push to remove names and images linked to the Confederacy at local schools isn’t new.

Fairfax County officials renamed JEB Stuart High School to Justice High School in 2017, with students changing the mascot in 2018. Fairfax High School’s principal changed the mascot this year. A few weeks ago, the Fairfax County School Board voted to rename Robert E. Lee High School to honor late U.S. Congressman John Lewis.

Tysons Reporter looked into how the two public school systems have tackled the renaming issue this summer and what’s coming up for schools in the Tysons area.

Falls Church Moving Forward With Renamings

After several meetings and hundreds of public comments, the Falls Church City School Board made the decision to move forward with renaming George Mason High School and Thomas Jefferson Elementary School in late June. Both Founding Fathers were slaveholders.

A few months ago, a petition with more than 250 signatures and growing public pressure prompted the school board to start considering the name changes in the second week of June.

“We’re at a point where it’s time to really begin the conversation,” Greg Anderson, the school board’s chair, said at a school board meeting this summer.

One of the biggest renaming questions the school board tackled is whether or not to hire a consultant to aid in the process, with some members saying it was a good idea in order to maintain neutrality and to gather more information about Mason and Jefferson and others pointing out the costs.

“Lots of folks don’t really know the history of who he is,” School Board member Lawrence Webb said about Mason.

The school board resolved that dilemma this week by voting to hire Herndon-based K-12 Insight to conduct the surveys, the Falls Church News-Press reported.

Now that the school board has approved moving forward with the renaming process, they will need to decide what the new names will be.

The school board wants to make sure the renaming process isn’t rushed, agreeing that it’s important to get many perspectives on this issue.

“I think we need to take our time so we know what the community has to say,” said Susan Dimock. Read More

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Labor Day is around the corner and there will be closures around the area.

All Fairfax County government offices, public schools, and public libraries will be closed on Monday (Sept. 7), according to the county website.

Trash and recycling will be collected on a regular schedule if community members are customers of Fairfax County, the website said, which added that people with a private company should contact the company directly. However, the administrative office will be closed on Monday.

The Fairfax Connector will be running on a Sunday Schedule on Monday.

The Metro will be running on a Sunday Schedule from 8 a.m. until 11 p.m. on Monday, according to the WMATA website.

The Mary Riley Styles Library in Falls Church (120 N. Virginia Ave) will be closed on Monday, according to the website, along with all city offices.

In the Town of Vienna, all government offices and the Vienna Community Center will be closed but waste collection will run on a regular schedule, according to the website.

The McLean Community Center will be closed on Monday.

Tysons Reporter will also have the day off Monday.

Photo via Jon Sailer/Unsplash

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Funding Metro Project — “A project submitted by the Fairfax County government remains in contention for Northern Virginia Transportation Commission (NVTC) funding, even as a number of other regional projects have been delayed for consideration due to sharp dropoffs in available funding.” [Inside NoVa]

Acquisition Takes Flight — “McLean-based communications satellite services provider Intelsat Corp. announced Monday it will acquire in-flight broadband connectivity provider Gogo Inc.’s commercial aviation business for $400 million.” [Virginia Business]

New Space for Shows — “The Creative Cauldron, a home-grown theater with some of the more successful performance and educational programs in the Little City’s history, has been promised 5,000 square feet for an expanded venue as a part of the Broad and Washington project.” [Falls Church News-Press]

New Auto Care Shop Rolls Into McLean — “McLean Automotive Service Center, a family-run business for nearly 70 years, has been turned into another locally-owned business.” [Patch]

Photo by Michelle Goldchain

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FCPS Town Hall Tonight — “Join FCPS Superintendent Scott S. Brabrand for another opportunity to ask questions and provide your thoughts on Wednesday, September 2, from 6 to 7 p.m. The focus for this Town Hall will be resources for parents, including technology and other supports.” [FCPS]

Fired Capitals Head Coach Selling Local Mansion — “It’s barely been a week since the Capitals fired head coach Todd Reirden, but his Falls Church mansion is already on the market. The six-bedroom, eight-bathroom house sits on 2.3 acres, and was listed Monday for $2,250,000 by Keller Williams agent Jordan Stuart.” [Washingtonian]

Tysons Galleria Debt — “The owner of the high-end Tysons Galleria mall said it plans to avoid defaulting on $282 million in debt slated to mature Tuesday as the owners of retail centers across the nation continue to struggle amid the coronavirus pandemic.” [Washington Business Journal]

Push for Vienna Police Reform — “In June, Sam Ressin read the news reports of protests against racism and police brutality in Minneapolis. Then he looked at his own community of Vienna, in Fairfax County.” [DCist]

Photo by Michelle Goldchain

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Fairfax County police are investigating a shooting that injured two adults in Falls Church over the weekend.

Police received the call shortly before midnight on Saturday (Aug. 29) from one of the two victims claiming to be shot, Erica Webb, a police spokesperson, told Tysons Reporter. Police responded to the 6000 block of Knollwood Drive in Falls Church and found the two adult victims outside in the parking lot, Webb said.

The two victims were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Webb said that the shooting is under investigation. Webb declined to say whether the victims knew each other, where they were injured and if the police department has information about the shooter(s).

The shooting did not appear to pose a threat to public safety, Webb said.

File photo

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Work is officially underway to revamp the Washington & Old Dominion Trail in Falls Church by adding parallel pedestrian and bicycle trails.

The City of Falls Church, NOVA Parks and the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) celebrated the start of the project with a groundbreaking earlier today.

The W&OD Trail Enhancements Project aims to separate slow- and fast-moving users by creating an 11-foot-wide bicycle trail and an 8-foot-wide path for pedestrians. A 2-foot-wide textured surface will separate the two paths.

The “Dual Trails” portion will include most of the 1.5 miles of the trail in the city, while a separate portion is set to get designed for parts of the W&OD in Arlington, according to a press release.

“The W&OD Trail Enhancements Project is a significant step to encourage non-motorized transportation, increase capacity and reduce congestion for cyclists and pedestrians utilizing the busy pathway,” Erica Hawksworth, an NVTA spokesperson, told Tysons Reporter.

Additionally, the project also will promote carbon-free travel and more biodiversity, according to a NOVA Parks sign at the groundbreaking. The press release about the groundbreaking noted that the project will improve stormwater management along the trail.

During a review of the project proposal in December, Falls Church planners said that it fits the city’s vision for separate walking and biking trails.

Hawksworth noted that the project is especially noteworthy because trails have been busier than usual during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Upon completion of the W&OD Trail Enhancements project, trail users will notice reduced congestion, safer conditions and enhanced bike and pedestrian access to the two Metrorail stations within the I-66 corridor,” Hawksworth said.

NVTA provided $3.24 million of regional funding for the project, which is being built by NOVA Parks and the city. Construction is expected to last until June 2021.

“It is fitting that the new Dual Trail enhancements start in the City of Falls Church, as the first section of the trail began here in 1974,” Mayor David Tarter said. “The city is pleased to once again be at the forefront of better and healthier ways to move people.”

Photo courtesy NVTA, map via City of Falls Church

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