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Morning Notes

Scott’s Run Falls in autumn (photo by ERTRIPP9/Twitter)

Last Day of Early Voting Hits Turnout High for 2021 — “Today was an #earlyvoting record for this election; we had more than 14,400 people cast ballots in person. In total, there have been more than 109,000 in person early votes cast!” [Fairfax County Office of Elections/Twitter]

Vigil Held for Falls Church Shooting Victim — “Loved ones gathered on Saturday to remember Nelson Alexander who was fatally shot during an attempted robbery at an ATM in Falls Church. This huge turnout, a testament to how much Nelson Alexander was loved. ‘He was a great person, he was a kind person, and he was a loving person,’ Patricia Alexander, the victim’s niece, said.” [NBC4]

Tysons Corner Nordstrom Adds Hijab Collection — “Ibrahim, CEO and founder of Henna & Hijabs (H&H), started her company in 2017 and introduced her collection this summer at Nordstrom in Tysons Corner Center and other locations around the U.S. This is one of the first luxury hijab collections to be sold inside a U.S. retailer store.” [Patch]

Vandalism Reported at Vienna Elementary School — A security officer for the school at 128 Center Street South reported to the Town of Vienna Police Department “that he found a burnt trashcan by the playground and three broken windows.” The incident occurred between 8 p.m. on Oct. 24 and 6 a.m. on October 25, according to VPD’s weekly crime report. [Vienna Police]

Photo by ERTRIPP9/Twitter

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Local and federal authorities are offering more reward money for information about an early morning killing from Oct. 20 at a Wells Fargo walk-up ATM on Annandale Road in West Falls Church.

Police reported last Saturday (Oct. 23) that the 73-year-old victim, Nelson Alexander Sr., of Falls Church, died after the robbery attempt and shooting.

The Fairfax County Police Department has been joined by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in its investigation of the case. The ATF is now offering a $10,000 reward.

“We owe it to his family and to our community to relentlessly pursue justice,” Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis said at a news conference today (Friday).

Police released additional security footage, stating that they have received many tips but are asking people to look again. Video from Metro showed individuals on a bus, but authorities are looking for other footage where the group may have been.

Authorities are hoping to identify three individuals that they believe include the person who killed Nelson, Major Crimes and Cyber and Forensics Bureau Maj. Ed O’Carroll said.

Special Agent in Charge Charlie Patterson pledged full support of ATF in finding the person responsible, calling the killing a “horrific act.”

Tips can be sent to the ATF at [email protected], by phone at 888-ATF-TIPS (888-283-8477), or online.

A passing cyclist noticed the victim in the parking lot around 6:14 a.m., and officers later responded to the 2900 block of Annandale Road.

Police previously shared how the attack occurred:

Preliminarily, detectives from our Major Crimes Bureau determined the victim entered the parking lot in his Jeep around 5:20 a.m. to use the walk-up ATM. As he was standing in front of the ATM, he was approached by a man wearing a mask who displayed a small revolver. The man was seen on surveillance footage threatening the victim and made demands before shooting him. The suspect left the area in an unknown direction.  

Alexander received surgery following the attack but was still in life-threatening condition in the hospital before dying from his injuries, police said Saturday (Oct. 23).

A vehicle was stolen in Alexandria, abandoned, and recovered by police about a half mile from the scene, O’Carroll said, adding that there may be more than just three people who were directly or indirectly involved.

FCPD has continued to ask for help in solving the crime. The department said if you have information or if you believe you have surveillance footage that. Police also asked people to look at home surveillance video not only from Oct. 20 but from previous days, too.

People may reach the Major Crimes Bureau by calling 703-246-7800 and pressing option two. FCPD also noted that tips can be submitted anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone at 1-866-411-TIPS (866-411-8477), by text (type “FCCS” plus tip to 847411) and online. Info can also be sent through the mobile app Fairfax Co Crime Solvers.

Tips to the county can get cash rewards of $100 to $1,000 if information leads to an arrest.

Police have classified the shooting as a murder investigation, the 19th so far this year in Fairfax County.

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Fairfax County Police Department footage of Park Police shooting McLean resident Bijan Ghaisar (via FCPD)

A federal judge in Alexandria agreed with legal arguments for two U.S. Park Police officers after they pursued a 25-year-old motorist in 2017 and fatally shot him in his Jeep.

Judge Claude Hilton dismissed criminal charges against the officers on Friday (Oct. 22), writing in an opinion that McLean resident Bijan Ghaisar was driving erratically after another vehicle hit his Jeep on George Washington Memorial Parkway, leading the officers on a pursuit.

Hilton wrote in his decisions for officers Alejandro Amaya and Lucas Vinyard that they “were authorized by federal law to act as they did” and “the officers did no more than was necessary and proper.”

The officers sought immunity under the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, which gives federal laws and powers precedence over those of a state.

Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano and Attorney General Mark Herring said in a joint statement that the state plans to appeal the case in the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond.

“[We] do not believe the law allows an individual to circumvent the accountability of the criminal justice system simply because of who their employer is,” the joint statement said. “We believe that a jury should have the opportunity to hear all of the evidence and determine whether these men committed a crime when they shot and killed Bijan Ghaisar.”

According to Hilton’s ruling, a dispatcher initially told police that Ghaisar’s vehicle hit another vehicle but then corrected that information, saying the Jeep was hit. The crash involving a Toyota Corolla occurred in Alexandria just north of Slater’s Lane on Nov. 17, 2017.

The court wrote that Ghaisar ignored officers’ commands to stop and pull over, failed to stop at a stop sign, and repeatedly drove away while Amaya’s hand was placed on Ghasiar’s door handle.

When Amaya approached the vehicle on foot around Tulane Drive and ordered him to open the door, Ghaisar took off while Amaya’s hand was on the door, the court wrote.

Police later pulled him over in a residential neighborhood off the parkway and yelled commands at Ghaisar on foot, but Ghaisar drove away again, according to the court.

When the officers pulled him over at the intersection of Fort Hunt Road and Alexandria Avenue, they exited the patrol car. Amaya shouted commands to Ghaisar when his Jeep lurched forward toward Amaya, prompting him to fire through the Jeep’s windshield.

“The Jeep initially stopped but then moved forward again, causing both officers to fire at Ghaisar,” the court wrote. “The Jeep then rolled over into a ditch.”

Ghaisar placed the officers in a life-or-death situation, the judge found.

“The officers’ decision to discharge their firearms was necessary and proper under the circumstances and there is no evidence that the officers acted with malice, criminal intent, or any improper motivation,” the judge wrote.

It wasn’t immediately clear how a postponed federal wrongful death lawsuit by Ghaisar’s father against the U.S. will proceed.

Ghaisar’s family, the McLean community, and elected officials have criticized the Park Police and FBI over their handling of the investigation into the shooting, including the prolonged withholding of the identities of the officers involved.

Federal prosecutors with the U.S. Department of Justice ultimately announced in November 2019 that they would not pursue charges against Amaya and Vinyard.

Descano put together a grand jury last year, and the officers were indicted in October 2020, both with a charge of manslaughter and another for reckless discharge of a firearm.

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Morning Notes

Victim of West Falls Church ATM Shooting Dies — “A 73-year-old man has died days after he was shot at an ATM in Falls Church, Virginia, during an attempted robbery, police said days after the attack. The victim was identified as Nelson Alexander, a loving, family-oriented man and involved member of his church who sang in the choir, his loved ones said.” [NBC4]

FCPS Hires Firm for Superintendent Search — The Fairfax County School Board has awarded human resources recruitment firm GR Recruiting a contract to conduct a nationwide search for Superintendent Scott Brabrand’s successor. Fairfax County Public Schools says parents, students, staff, and community members will be involved in the process, with the next superintendent taking over on July 1, 2022. [FCPS]

Another Full I-66 West Closure Coming Tonight — “All lanes of I-66 West approaching Route 7 (Leesburg Pike) will close Monday night, October 25, for continued bridge beam installation at the I-66/I-495 Interchange. Traffic will be detoured using Route 7 and I-495. Multiple lanes of I-495 North approaching I-66 will be closed, along with a full closure of the 495 Express Lanes North and associated ramps at the interchange so that this work may be implemented.” [VDOT]

Nonprofit Opens New Office in Vienna — “A nonprofit organization focused on providing day programs for adults with disabilities held a ribbon-cutting ceremony and talent show on Thursday as it celebrated the opening of its new administrative office in Vienna. The new office for the nonprofit SPARC is at The Church of the Good Shepherd, a United Methodist church located at 2351 Hunter Mill Road in Vienna.” [Patch]

County Board Looks at Waiving EV Permit Fees — “Fairfax County supervisors on Oct. 19 directed the county’s Department of Land Development Services to analyze the possibility of waiving permitting fees associated with installation of electric-vehicle infrastructure. The intention is to reduce barriers to switching to environmentally friendly alternatives, said Chairman Jeff McKay (D).” [Sun Gazette]

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(Updated at 11:40 a.m.) Police say they’re looking for help after a shooter tried to rob and then attacked a man this morning in West Falls Church.

The 73-year-old man was on his way to work about 5:20 a.m. when he was shot in the chest, taken by police to the hospital with life-threatening injuries, and had surgery completed that morning, police said.

The man stopped by an ATM to get cash when a young man attacked him. A passing cyclist noticed the victim in the parking lot around 6:14 a.m., and officers later responded to the 2900 block of Annandale Road.

Police closed Jefferson Avenue from Annandale Road to Madison Place and told people to avoid the area.

Police are releasing surveillance footage, and FCPD Chief Kevin Davis shared information on the attack during a news conference that streamed on Facebook.

Davis said the gunman was a young man with distinctive tennis shoes and backpack who attempted to rob a 73-year-old victim.

“It’s despicable to even say,” Davis said.

The chief added the community is praying that the victim will survive, noting despite the emergency surgery, he’s still in very critical condition.

“We will leave no stone unturned to identify and capture this coward who shot a vulnerable senior citizen at an ATM machine this morning,” Davis said.

It’s unclear how the suspect fled the scene.

Police are urging the public to call 1-866-411-TIPS.

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Morning Notes

Man Arrested in Vienna Shooting — A 25-year-old Manassas man has been charged with malicious wounding and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon after a shooting in the Navy Federal Credit Union parking lot at 801 Follin Lane SE. Police found a male victim who had been shot in the upper torso around 12:36 a.m. yesterday (Thursday) in what investigators believe was a personal dispute with no greater threat to the community. [Vienna Police Department]

Fairfax County Pushes to Vaccinate Unhoused Residents — “Hutson is one of roughly 1,200 unhoused residents in Fairfax County, according to the county’s January 2021 point-in-time count…Getting COVID-19 vaccines to this transient — and highly vulnerable — population is a major challenge for public health staff like Vukadinovich.” [DCist]

County Seeks Kid-Sized Mask Donations — The Fairfax County Health Department hopes to collect 10,000 new, unused face masks that can fit children who are too young to get vaccinated, particularly toddlers and school-aged kids. Masks can be dropped off at all local police stations and will help the county fill requests from nonprofit partners. [FCHD]

Falls Church Cuts Ribbon on New High School Campus — “It was the major ceremony that officials here have been working toward for more than a decade. At Homecoming Week at Meridian High School, the brand-spanking new $120 million high school facility was formally dedicated with a ribbon cutting last Saturday morning.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Latter-Day Saints Opens New Wolf Trap Church — “A new meetinghouse for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been completed in the Wolf Trap area and will offer public tours during an open house. The new meetinghouse at 1632 Crowell Road, Vienna will serve residents of Vienna, McLean, Reston, and other nearby communities. The estimated membership is 600 Latter-day Saints.” [Patch]

Capital One Delays Office Reopening Again — “The McLean-based financial giant has opted not to reopen its offices in a hybrid format Nov. 2. It first announced in June it would reopen in September, then in August delayed that until November. Hybrid remains the plan, but the company will no longer attempt to forecast a date as to when that might be implemented.” [Washington Business Journal]

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Morning Notes

Virginia Requires Vaccinations for All State Workers — About 122,000 state employees must show proof that they have gotten a COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 1 or undergo weekly testing with proof of a negative result, Gov. Ralph Northam said yesterday (Thursday). Noting that 98% of COVID hospitalizations since January have been unvaccinated people, he encouraged local governments and businesses to adopt similar mandates. [Office of the Governor]

Woman Shot by Fairfax County Police Officer Charged — “Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis on Thursday released body-camera video of the July police shooting of a resident of a group home for the intellectually disabled…Police identified the woman who was shot as 30-year-old Jiyoung Lee of Springfield. Lee, who was later charged with assault on an officer, was taken to the hospital following the shooting and is still recovering.” [The Washington Post]

County Prosecutor Launches New Specialized Units — Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano announced on Tuesday (Aug. 4) that his office has established two new teams that will focus exclusively on domestic violence cases and crimes against children. The units will consist of 15 new prosecutors who will all be trained in working with victims of trauma. [WTOP]

Capital One Hall to Hold Job Fair — Scheduled to open on Oct. 2, Capital One Hall (7750 Capital One Tower Road) in Tysons will hold a job fair from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 5-8 p.m. on Tuesday (Aug. 10) as the performance venue prepares for its inaugural season. Available positions include bartenders, cooks, banquet servers, dishwashers, security, audiovisual technicians, and more. [Capital One Hall/Twitter]

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Morning Notes

Fairfax County Flies Flags at Half Mast for Pentagon Officer — Fairfax County flags will fly at half-mast today (Wednesday) after a Pentagon police officer was killed in a shooting incident that prompted a lockdown around the Department of Defense’s headquarters. Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said in a statement that there was no threat to the county and no county resources were deployed. [Jeff McKay/Twitter]

Walking Fundraiser Supports Local Black-Owned Businesses — The Northern Virginia Black Chamber of Commerce is holding a virtual walk-or-run fundraiser called One Step Forward this August, which is National Black Business Month. Participants can pick their own distance to travel and will receive a T-shirt, finishing medal, and more along with possible prizes. [NVBCC]

Tysons Finds Silver Lining in Pandemic Disruption — Social distancing and the increase in remote work prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic has given Tysons an opportunity to rethink the use of public spaces and how to accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists, local economic development leaders say. The real estate market, ongoing development, and the return of the area’s retail industry could position it to lead Fairfax County’s recovery. [Virginia Business]

Vienna Little League Teams Shine at State Tournament — “With two teams winning championships and another reaching the semifinals, Vienna Little League all-star baseball squads enjoyed a successful summer in state-tournament action. The two state-title teams were the Vienna American 8-10 age all-stars and the new Vienna Intermediate all-stars, a first-season team of 13-year-olds playing on a bigger diamond.” [Sun Gazette]

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Morning Notes

Fairfax County Police Officer Shoots Woman — A woman was taken to the hospital in critical condition yesterday (Monday) after a Fairfax County police officer fired their weapon and shot her during a confrontation at a group home in Springfield. Police say they responded to the 8000 block of Gosport Lane by a disturbance call about a woman reportedly assaulting people. [The Washington Post]

Bijan Ghaisar’s Family Protests Park Police Task Force Appointment — “The parents of Bijan Ghaisar, a 25-year-old resident of McLean who was shot and killed by U.S. Park Police in November 2017, are protesting Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s decision to appoint former U.S. Park Police Chief Robert MacLean to head a new task force reviewing law enforcement policies…in the wake of the police’s violent crackdown in Lafayette Park in 2020 during the presidency of Donald Trump.” [Patch]

Falls Church City Seeks School Supplies — “The City of Falls Church Housing and Human Services (HHS) team will help local families with free school supplies. Donations for all ages — and especially middle and high school students — can be delivered to City Hall (300 Park Ave.) through Friday, August 13.” [City of Falls Church]

Falls Church Startup Proposes Automating Tax Appeals — A startup co-founded by Falls Church City Councilmember Ross Litkenhous is looking to raise $2 million to fund a software platform that they say will simplify the property tax appeals process. Launched in February, Calvary Real Estate Advisors would help users fill out the assessment appeal, find ways to save money, and send the form to the right place. [Washington Business Journal]

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Morning Notes

(Updated at 8:15 p.m. on 7/23/2021) Fairfax County School Board Members at Nats Park During Shooting — Karl Frisch and Megan McLaughlin, who respectively represent the Providence and Braddock districts on the school board, were at Nationals Park on Saturday (July 17) when gunfire outside the stadium sent fans running for cover and suspended the game. Three people were injured in the shooting, including a woman who was attending the game, according to police. [Karl Frisch/Twitter, Megan McLaughlin/Twitter]

Virginia Announces Universal Broadband Plan — Gov. Ralph Northam announced a plan on Friday (July 16) to invest $700 million to make broadband services universally accessible throughout the state. The funds will come from the state’s $4.3 billion federal COVID-19 relief allocation from the American Rescue Plan Act. [The Washington Post]

Mosaic District Art Gallery Presents New Show — The Torpedo Factory Artists Association will present the results of its regional painting competition at The Gallery @ Mosaic (links corrected) from July 23 through August 22. With more than 30 paintings from nearly 400 submissions, the show will the association’s first regional painting showcase and give the pop-up gallery its first in-person reception since it recently reopened after closing for the COVID-19 pandemic. [Northern Virginia Magazine]

McLean Little League Softball Teams Celebrate Strong Seasons — “It has been the case for many years now, so it was no surprise that McLean Little League all-star girls softball teams again had strong showings in recent state tournaments, with one squad winning the championship and two others finishing second.” [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]

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