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Last updated: Thu, 14 Dec 2017 00:22:32 GMT

 Port City Brewing Co. to partner with Tall Ship Providence Foundation Tue, 12 Dec 2017 21:51:00 +0000
By Alexa Epitropoulos | aepitropoulos@alextimes.com Port City Brewing Co. announced that it’s partnering with the Tall Ship Providence Foundation, which is raising funds to bring tall ship The Providence to the Alexandria waterfront permanently, the longtime local brewery announced in a news release. As part of the partnership, Port City is giving one dollar from […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

By Alexa Epitropoulos | aepitropoulos@alextimes.com

Port City Brewing Co. announced that it’s partnering with the Tall Ship Providence Foundation, which is raising funds to bring tall ship The Providence to the Alexandria waterfront permanently, the longtime local brewery announced in a news release.

As part of the partnership, Port City is giving one dollar from every pint of beer sold at its tasting room on Wheeler Avenue to the initiative until its fundraising goal is met, starting on Jan. 1. 

Port City Brewing Co. founder Bill Butcher said the tall ship would be beneficial for the city for years to come.

“Our hometown has a long history as an important port city, so we’re excited to be part of this initiative to bring that history to life … We want our customers to have a stake in this project. The Providence will be an asset for the city and the people of Alexandria for years to come,” Butcher said in the release.

The Tall Ship Providence Foundation kicked off efforts to bring The Providence, a 110-foot, single mast tall ship, to Alexandria in September. The group aims to bring the ship to the city’s Waterfront Park by the spring of 2019. The intention is for the ship to serve as a tourist attraction, a private event venue and a floating classroom for the Alexandria Seaport Foundation.

The ship is a full-sized replica of colonial era ship the U.S.S. Providence, which was commissioned into the newly created Navy of the Continental Congress in January 1775 and which also served as the first command of John Paul Jones. The ship was used for a similar purpose as the Tall Ship Providence Foundation proposes when it was based in Rhode Island. 

 

 

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 Police investigating shooting on upper Queen Street Tue, 12 Dec 2017 19:49:36 +0000
By Alexa Epitropoulos | aepitropoulos@alextimes.com The investigation into a shooting that occurred in the 1000 block of Queen Street on Monday night is still ongoing, according to the Alexandria Police Department. Police responded to a report of gunshots in the area at 7:35 p.m. on Monday. Police first reported the incident as a felonious assault […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

By Alexa Epitropoulos | aepitropoulos@alextimes.com

The investigation into a shooting that occurred in the 1000 block of Queen Street on Monday night is still ongoing, according to the Alexandria Police Department.

Police responded to a report of gunshots in the area at 7:35 p.m. on Monday. Police first reported the incident as a felonious assault at 8:10 p.m. on Monday.

APD spokeswoman Crystal Nosal said officers located a 23-year-old male suffering from an injury to the upper body at the scene. The unnamed victim was transported to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Police say one of the two suspects was known to the victim.

Rebecca Edwards said she first heard shots at around 7:30 at her neighborhood home, which fronts on Queen Street.

“It was so loud and so rapid fire my kids and I thought someone was shooting at the house,” Edwards said. “It sounded like it was right outside my door.” 

Edwards said the gunshots seemed to go on for five to six seconds. 

Police haven’t apprehended the two suspects at this time and no arrests have been made. Nosal said the investigation is active.

This is a developing story. This post will be updated as more information becomes available. 

 

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 New Alexandria Chamber board chair announced Mon, 11 Dec 2017 22:08:39 +0000
The Alexandria Chamber of Commerce has announced the incoming chair of its board of directors. The Chamber announced at its annual meeting on Dec. 5 that Virginia “Gin” Kinneman will serve as chair in 2018. Kinneman is the founder and owner of Kinneman Insurance, which has offices in Alexandria and McLean and has been in […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

The Alexandria Chamber of Commerce has announced the incoming chair of its board of directors.

The Chamber announced at its annual meeting on Dec. 5 that Virginia “Gin” Kinneman will serve as chair in 2018.

Kinneman is the founder and owner of Kinneman Insurance, which has offices in Alexandria and McLean and has been in operation for 20 years. She has been involved in the Chamber’s inner workings for multiple years, acting as leader of the Alexandria Chamber’s Professional Women’s Network and the Chamber’s Membership Committee. 

She will be officially welcomed as the incoming chair on Jan. 18 at the Chamber’s Chairman’s Reception, which will be held at Alexandria Renew Enterprises. 

The Chamber’s annual meeting also featured a keynote speech from prominent Old Town developers Asana Partners, which purchased 21 storefronts in Old Town over the past year.

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 Rabid fox captured in Alexandria Mon, 11 Dec 2017 21:57:12 +0000
By Missy Schrott | mschrott@alextimes.com A fox that was exhibiting unusual behavior was confirmed rabid on Friday, according to the Alexandria Health Department. The fox was first sighted on Dec. 4 and was captured by Animal Control on Dec. 7. Before the confirmation that the fox was rabid on Dec. 8, Animal Control said it had […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

By Missy Schrott | mschrott@alextimes.com

A fox that was exhibiting unusual behavior was confirmed rabid on Friday, according to the Alexandria Health Department.

The fox was first sighted on Dec. 4 and was captured by Animal Control on Dec. 7. Before the confirmation that the fox was rabid on Dec. 8, Animal Control said it had wounds on the backs of its legs and was exhibiting unusual behavior. The Health Department tested the animal at that point. 

At this time, the Health Department is not aware of any persons or pets that have been exposed to the fox. Health Department employees have gone door-to-door to warn residents in the area where the fox was found and are raising awareness in the community about the potential rabies alert.

The Health Department said anyone who has been bitten or come into physical contact with the fox should seek immediate medical attention and call the Alexandria Health Department at 703-746-4910 (or after hours 703-795-8506).

If you see an animal that looks unwell or is behaving strangely, call Animal Control at 703-746-4774 (or after hours 703-746-4444).

In addition, make sure all dogs and cats are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations, and remember that dogs must be on a leash in all public areas and parks except areas designated otherwise.

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 Alexandria police arrest two men implicated in heroin trafficking Mon, 11 Dec 2017 21:36:39 +0000
By Alexa Epitropoulos | aepitropoulos@alextimes.com  Two men have been arrested for suspected roles in a heroin trafficking network following a two-year narcotics investigation, according to a city news release. The investigation, conducted jointly by the Alexandria Police Department, the Alexandria Commonwealth Attorney’s Office and the Virginia Office of the Attorney General, led to the arrests […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

By Alexa Epitropoulos | aepitropoulos@alextimes.com 

Two men have been arrested for suspected roles in a heroin trafficking network following a two-year narcotics investigation, according to a city news release.

The investigation, conducted jointly by the Alexandria Police Department, the Alexandria Commonwealth Attorney’s Office and the Virginia Office of the Attorney General, led to the arrests and indictments of Samuel Lebron, 38, and Jeffrey Montilla, 37, both of New York City. Both were indicted by the Northern Virginia multi-jurisdictional grand jury based on evidence related to the investigation.

Lebron and Montilla face charges of conspiracy to commit racketeering, conspiracy to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin, conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine and two counts of conspiracy to import an ounce or more of a Schedule I/II Controlled Substance into the commonwealth. 

Both Lebron and Montilla have been extradited to the Alexandria Adult Detention Center and are being held without bond pending trial.

A city news release said Lebron and Montilla were part of a heroin trafficking network “responsible for trafficking heroin from New York City to the City of Alexandria.” The investigation resulted in the seizure of 400 grams of heroin, 78 grams of cocaine, a firearm, $32,109 in cash and two luxury vehicles, according to the release.

Lieutenant Michael Kochis, commander of the Alexandria Vice/Narcotics Unit at the Alexandria Police Department, praised the work of investigators on the case.

“I am very proud of the tremendous work our detectives and prosecutors have put into this investigation,” Kochis said in the release. “The collaboration between our partners from the Fairfax County Police Department, Alexandria Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, the Virginia Office of the Attorney General and the Drug Enforcement Administration is impressive.” 

Lebron’s and Montilla’s cases will be prosecuted by the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Alexandria and the Virginia Office of the Attorney General. 

 

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 Two robberies reported on Thursday night Fri, 08 Dec 2017 19:35:16 +0000
By Alexa Epitropoulos | aepitropoulos@alextimes.com Police reported two robberies back-to-back on Thursday night. A robbery in the 3800 block of Commonwealth Avenue was reported at 9:37 p.m. Multiple suspects carried weapons and stole a vehicle from several victims, according to a news release. There were no injuries as a result of this incident. A second […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

By Alexa Epitropoulos | aepitropoulos@alextimes.com

Police reported two robberies back-to-back on Thursday night.

A robbery in the 3800 block of Commonwealth Avenue was reported at 9:37 p.m. Multiple suspects carried weapons and stole a vehicle from several victims, according to a news release. There were no injuries as a result of this incident.

A second robbery was reported at 10:07 p.m. in the 5100 block of Holmes Run Parkway. Two suspects assaulted a delivery driver and stole food. This robbery yielded no injuries.

It’s not clear if the two robberies are related. Police haven’t revealed if any of the suspects have been apprehended or charged.

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 Boat Parade of Lights wins USA Today readers’ choice award Fri, 08 Dec 2017 19:26:51 +0000
By Alexa Epitropoulos | aepitropoulos@alextimes.com Less than a week after the latest iteration of the Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights, the annual event has won a USA Today readers’ choice award for best holiday parades. The list ranked the long-running boat parade of lights number 8, sandwiched between the Christmas Ship Parade in Portland, Oregon […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

By Alexa Epitropoulos | aepitropoulos@alextimes.com

Less than a week after the latest iteration of the Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights, the annual event has won a USA Today readers’ choice award for best holiday parades.

The list ranked the long-running boat parade of lights number 8, sandwiched between the Christmas Ship Parade in Portland, Oregon and the Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Mummers Parade in Philadelphia won the top spot. Two other local parades, the Eastport Yacht Club Lights Parade of Annapolis, Maryland and the Reston Holiday Parade of Reston, Virginia, also made the list.

In order to determine the readers’ choice awards, the public was asked to vote from a list of 20 ‘best holiday parade’ nominees, which were chosen by a panel of experts from USA Today, 10Best.com, as well as other media sources and outside contributors. 

The Holiday Boat Parade of Lights is presented by the city, Visit Alexandria, the Old Dominion Boat Club and the Potomac Riverboat Co. Visit Alexandria acted as the lead producer of the event this year. 

“We are thrilled to receive this honor,” Visit Alexandria CEO Patricia Washington said in a news release. “The Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights has been a beloved holiday tradition in Old Town Alexandria for 18 years and is a signature celebration for our historic waterfront.” 

View the winning boats of 2017 below.

[See image gallery at alextimes.com]

 

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 Two sent to hospital after serious Braddock Road crash Fri, 08 Dec 2017 18:42:35 +0000
By Missy Schrott | mschrott@alextimes.com A car crash on Braddock Road shut down an intersection on Thursday evening and sent two people to the hospital, according to the Alexandria Police Department. Two people were transported to area hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries. APD Spokeswoman Crystal Nosal said the condition of those injured wasn’t known. TRAFFIC: Intersection […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

By Missy Schrott | mschrott@alextimes.com

A car crash on Braddock Road shut down an intersection on Thursday evening and sent two people to the hospital, according to the Alexandria Police Department.

Two people were transported to area hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries. APD Spokeswoman Crystal Nosal said the condition of those injured wasn’t known.

Patch reported the drivers of the respective cars were the ones sent to the hospital. A tweet from International Association of Firefighters’ Local 2141 states that those injured were trapped in their cars and had to be rescued by firefighters, more specifically Rescue 206, following the crash.

The crash occurred at approximately 5:15 p.m. and closed the intersection of West Braddock Road and Valley Drive for three hours. APD is still investigating the cause of the crash.

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 Four Alexandria residents arrested as part of national gun and drug sting operation Thu, 07 Dec 2017 20:22:02 +0000
By Alexa Epitropoulos | aepitropoulos@alextimes.com Four Alexandria residents were among the 28 people arrested for roles in selling drugs while armed or other criminal acts related to firearms on Wednesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Virginia announced in a news release. The arrests were made as part of Operation Tin Panda, […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

By Alexa Epitropoulos | aepitropoulos@alextimes.com

Four Alexandria residents were among the 28 people arrested for roles in selling drugs while armed or other criminal acts related to firearms on Wednesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Virginia announced in a news release.

The arrests were made as part of Operation Tin Panda, started by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the FBI in the spring of 2017. Law enforcement investigators and prosecutors jointly investigated area blood gangs that were involved in violent crime and other criminal activity in Northern Virginia.

This investigation was done in collaboration with the DEA, the U.S. Postal Inspector’s Service, Prince William County Police Department, Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office, Alexandria Police Department and many other organizations and police departments. 

The investigation led to the arrests of more than 30 individuals throughout Virginia, Maryland, D.C. and California, who were illegally selling firearms and controlled substances or were involved in other criminal acts. 

Those arrested from Alexandria are Deion Wright, 25; Orean Anthony Hayden, 29; Bryan Matthews, 19; and Ezana Demisse, 25. Wright was charged with possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, Hayden was charged with use and carry of a firearm during and relation to a drug trafficking crime, Matthews was charged with use and carry of a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime and Demisse is charged with use and carry of a firearm during and in relation to drug trafficking. 

As part of the operation, law enforcement seized firearms, heroin and other controlled substances.

 

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 Opioids in Alexandria: What makes the drugs dangerous and addictive Thu, 07 Dec 2017 19:22:44 +0000
By Missy Schrott | mschrott@alextimes.com Lieutenant Michael Kochis, commander of the Alexandria Police Department’s vice and narcotics section, said the feeling of addiction withdrawal from opioids has been described to him as akin to a person’s skin being ripped off of his or her body. The grueling mental and physical dependency leaves users in constant […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

By Missy Schrott | mschrott@alextimes.com

Lieutenant Michael Kochis, commander of the Alexandria Police Department’s vice and narcotics section, said the feeling of addiction withdrawal from opioids has been described to him as akin to a person’s skin being ripped off of his or her body.

The grueling mental and physical dependency leaves users in constant fear of the vicious withdrawal they know will occur if they stop using. As they depend more and more on the drug, its danger increases. All it takes is injecting too large a dose to chase a high, or purchasing a street drug that has been laced with something unexpected, for someone to overdose and die.

In this fifth article in the Times’ series on Opioids in Alexandria, we examine the killers themselves in the nationwide opioid epidemic: the drugs.

Common opioids include heroin, oxycodone, Vicodin, fentanyl, codeine, morphine and several others. The drugs turning up most often in cases around Alexandria involve heroin or a hybrid of heroin and fentanyl, according to Kochis.

Heroin-fentanyl mixtures are popular for their price and potency. Not only is fentanyl much cheaper for dealers to obtain at $1,200 per kilo versus up to $82,000 per kilo for heroin, it’s also extremely powerful, Kochis said. The National Institute on Drug Abuse describes fentanyl as a synthetic opioid similar to morphine, but 50 to 100 times more potent.

Graphic: Sasha Kochurova

“You mix up a little bit of heroin with mostly fentanyl, you have some good stuff,” Kochis said. “It’s what people look for even knowing the risks, because it’s such a significant high.”

The potency, however, is what often leads to overdose and death.

“Some opioids are more potent than others, so a small amount of one can be much stronger than the same amount of another, and that’s where the fentanyl analogs have caused so many overdose deaths,” said Dr. Hughes Melton, M.D., chief deputy commissioner of the Virginia Department of Health.

Somebody who is used to taking a gram of heroin may take the same amount of a heroin-fentanyl mixture without realizing it will be 50 to 100 times stronger, Melton said. It is often in these situations that overdoses and deaths occur, because the concentration of opioid activity in the bloodstream is so high it stops respiration.

Another frequent cause of overdoses is when users combine drugs of different classes and forms.

Graphic: Sasha Kochurova

“People do not usually die from just one drug,” Melton said. “It’s just another layer, another level of bad and dangerous, when drugs of different mechanisms of action are combined.”

Melton said drugs of different classes that are frequently paired with opioids include alcohol, benzodiazepines such as Xanax, and other seemingly harmless sedatives such as Benadryl. When these drugs are combined, the effect isn’t additive — it’s exponential.

“If you take some opiates, and you get sort of a buzz, then you just take a little bit of benzodiazepine, you don’t just get a little more buzz, you get dead,” Melton said. “Combining drugs, because of the way they work in your body and in your brain, they don’t have an incremental effect when you add one to the other, they have an exponential effect … that’s usually how people die.”

With such dangerous drugs being developed and sold on the black market, the Alexandria Police Department has taken precautions in its training and fieldwork.

“As a rule, our patrol officers are not what we call ‘field testing’ suspected heroin,” Kochis said. “So what that means is, say an officer stops someone or finds a powder they believe is heroin, we don’t test it there.”

The substance is sent to a lab to be tested in a controlled environment, but the officer can still arrest and charge the suspect based on the totality of circumstances, Kochis said.

In addition, Kochis said officers in the narcotics unit are educated about heroin, fentanyl and other opioids that are circulating in the market of illicit drugs.

One drug that has cropped up in recent years is carfentanil, a synthetic opioid used to tranquilize large mammals. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration issued a warning to the public and law enforcement about carfentanil in September 2016 that states the drug is a fentanyl analog 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl itself.

Kochis said Alexandria has not yet had any cases of carfentanil, but Fairfax and Prince William counties have. Carfentanil is especially dangerous for law enforcement because it comes in several forms, including powder and spray, and it can be accidentally inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Since undercover officers cannot wear personal protective equipment when purchasing a dangerous drug, Kochis said there is always a team nearby with an antidote called naloxone as a precaution.

When people overdose, naloxone is the only substance known to reverse the opioids’ effects, according to Melton. Formulations of naloxone include Narcan and Enzio. Naloxone, however, is only an immediate solution to an overdose and does not cure withdrawal symptoms or the underlying problem of addiction.

While different opioids have varying effects, the principal reason they are legally prescribed is pain management. According to the NIDA, the drugs interact with opioid receptors on nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain to reduce the intensity of pain signal perception. They are generally safe when prescribed by a doctor and taken for a short period of time, according to NIDA.

Since the opioids produce a sense of euphoria in addition to eliminating pain, however, they are often misused. A December 2016 article by Science Line states that physical dependency may take a while, but psychological addiction can take place in fewer than three days.

Melton said the addictiveness of opioids depended on the type and form of the drug.

“What makes one opioid more addictive than another is how quickly it gets into your bloodstream and the level of the drug peaks,” Melton said.

Drugs taken orally, snorted nasally or injected in liquid form all have different impacts. For example, an opioid taken orally will take longer to get into someone’s system and have a more gradual peak than one that is crushed and snorted, according to Melton.

He also said opioids that are prescribed are often given in oral form, whereas illicit street drugs usually turn up in other, more addictive forms.

In addition to the mental side of addiction, heavy opioid users also experience an intense physical dependency.

“It’s been described to me as your skin being ripped off of your body. You don’t sleep for days. It’s a very physical addiction. They just can’t stop,” Kochis said. “They wake up, and they’re sick, very sick … From what I see, they have almost a fear of not getting that high or that fix, because of the detox from opioids, heroin or fentanyl, it’s violent.”

Melton said education is important for preventing addiction and that prescribers need to warn patients exactly what opioids will do to their bodies. Common opioid side effects include drowsiness, mental confusion, nausea, constipation and respiratory depression, according to NIDA.

“Historically, prescribers did not do a very good job of explaining the risks and how is it that an opioid works, other than just, ‘It’ll help with your pain,’” Melton said. “Well sure, but it’s gonna do all these other things too that potentially you need to watch out for, like cause constipation, make you sleepy, dangerous driving … It can make you fall, it can cause you to stop breathing, all of that needs to be explained to individuals.”

In addition to educating patients on side effects and risks of addiction, Melton said everyone should be aware of the long-term effects of opioid addiction. In addition to overdose and death being the most lethal consequences, some common withdrawal symptoms include restlessness, drowsiness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes and involuntary leg movement, according to NIDA.

“The more a person understands what the drug does to them,” he said, “the less dangerous it is.”

The Drugs’ Backgrounds

Heroin

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, heroin is an opioid drug made from morphine, a natural substance that comes from the seedpod of various opium poppy plants. Its chemical name is diacetylmorphine, with the molecular formula, C21H- 23NO5, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Although morphine has a much longer history, heroin has been around under its current name since the late 1800s. Heroin typically comes in a white or brown powder or a black sticky substance called “black tar heroin.” It can be injected, smoked or snorted. It is classified as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, meaning there is no current accepted medical use for it in the United States.

Fentanyl

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid analgesic (pain reliever) similar to morphine, but 50 to 100 times stronger, according to NIDA. Its molecular formula is C22H28N2O, according to the NLM. Fentanyl is a Schedule II narcotic under the Controlled Substances Act and is approved by the FDA for use as an analgesic and anesthetic.

According to the DEA, fentanyl was first developed in 1959. There was a spike of fentanyl overdoses from 2005 to 2007 and another surge has been seen in recent years. The fentanyl and fentanyl analogs associated with recent overdoses are produced in clandestine labs, according to NIDA. Fentanyl comes in numerous forms and is often mixed with other drugs.

Due to the recent spike in illicit fentanyl use, there is a bipartisan bill in congress called the INTERDICT Act, which aims to halt the flow of illegal fentanyl from Mexico, China and other nations into the United States.

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