By Chris Teale (Photo/Chris Teale)
After a tumultuous week for the Alexandria Police Department and the North Old Town community, Police Chief Earl Cook urged citizens to come together and help solve the latest crime and the broader causes of such incidents.
The department was called into action to investigate the city’s third homicide of the year early in the afternoon of June 8, then announced the arrest of a suspect in a 2015 slaying the following day.
Police said Pierre Clark, 28, of no fixed address, suffered multiple gunshot wounds along the 1000 block of Montgomery St. just after noon. Police spokeswoman Crystal Nosal said Clark was transported to a local hospital, but he succumbed to his injuries just before 2 p.m. that day.
As a precaution, all Alexandria City Public Schools buildings and the central office went on lock-in due to police activity at 12:44 p.m. The lock-in was lifted at 1:44 p.m. ACPS spokeswoman Helen Lloyd said Superintendent Alvin Crawley made the decision to have a system- wide lock-in in conjunction with security staff.
“We called it [the lock-in] because we need to keep our students safe at all times,” Lloyd said. “We understood there to be a risk to our students and staff. Safety is always our top priority; it has to be.”
Lloyd explained that a lock-in means that classes proceed as normal, but that schools’ outside doors are locked as the threat to safety is perceived to be outside the building. A lock-in is different from a lockdown, when classroom doors are locked and students and staff take shelter, as the threat is perceived to be inside the building.
On June 9, police announced the arrest of Rashad Lonzell Adkins, 21, of Alexandria, in connection with the slaying of Shakkan Elliot-Tibbs last year. Adkins was charged with murder, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, and was indicted by a grand jury earlier that day.
Elliot-Tibbs, 22, of Woodbridge, suffered a gunshot wound July 3, 2015 on the 700 block of N. Fayette St. He was transported to a local hospital, where he later died from his injuries. Nosal said Adkins was the only suspected wanted in connection with the crime.
Police hosted a community meeting last Friday at the Charles Houston Recreation Center to listen to residents’ concerns. Cook said he was confident of solving Clark’s murder quickly, but that the process would be made even easier by eyewitnesses coming forward, including anonymously.
Cook said that was one factor in why Elliot-Tibbs’ slaying took almost a year to solve, as witnesses to the crime did not come forward with information immediately. Cook emphasized his belief that a homicide around noon in a highly-populated area had a number of witnesses.
In addition to requesting those in the community come forward with information on Clark’s murder, Cook asked attendees to think about the root causes of deadly crime, and what they can do to help combat them. That desire to see community engagement to prevent young people sliding into gangs, drugs and violence was echoed by several public speakers who addressed the more than 100 people in attendance.
“There are different ways of pointing the finger, and sometimes it’s not always outside,” said Dara Shen, a member of the Alexandria Boxing Club, which trains at the Charles Houston Recreation Center. “Sometimes it’s inside as well.”
“You cannot expect the police to be our personal bodyguards,” said Rev. Gregory King, Sr. of Russell Temple CME Church. “It is up to the community to police yourself.”
Cook said police continually analyze data on crime and try to send officers to areas in a proactive manner, rather than purely reacting to incidents. He said while he and his colleagues would like to engage in more community policing — getting out of patrol cars, meeting with residents and building relationships — that desire must be balanced with a need to react to crimes as they occur.
Cook also noted that police rigorously enforce trespassing laws if people from outside the city visit and loiter on a property owned by the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority, the organization that manages the city’s affordable housing stock. ARHA CEO Roy Priest said the installation of security cameras at the Andrew Adkins property is being considered, but it would not be financially feasible to do across every ARHA property.
Clark’s slaying was the third homicide in the city this year. The first took place in April, when Melaku Abraha was assaulted and robbed on the 200 block of S. Alfred St. and later died of his injuries. In May, Shakeel Baldon, 43, was stabbed on Lincolnia Road and died from his injuries in a local hospital.
Police announced April 12 that George McGee II, 22, of Capitol Heights, Md., was charged in connection with the murder of Abraha. With Adkins’ arrest, all four of the city’s 2015 homicides have been solved.
Anyone with further in- formation on Clark’s slaying is asked to contact Detective William Oakley with the Alexandria Police Department at 703-380-5019. Those with further details about the investigation into Elliot-Tibbs’ death are asked to contact Detective Loren King at 703-746-6689.