Police announce arrest in First Street homicide

Police announce arrest in First Street homicide

By Chris Teale (File photo)

Editor’s note: this article is an updated version of this post from July 22, and appeared in the July 28 print edition of the Times.

The Alexandria Police Department announced last Friday it charged a man in connection with the slaying of Saquan Hall earlier this month.

Dijuan Clark, 30, was apprehended by authorities on July 21 in another state and was extradited to Virginia. Police spokeswoman Crystal Nosal confirmed he is the brother of Pierre Clark, 28, who was shot around noon June 8 on the 1000 block of Montgomery St.

Dijuan Clark is accused of killing Hall, 23, who was found shot on the 1000 block of First St. early July 2 and died from his injuries in a local hospital.

“This crime shook a community already dealing with a death and made many worry for their safety,” said Police Chief Earl Cook in a statement. “I want to thank the community for uniting and helping end the cycle of violence by understanding the necessity of allowing Alexandria police detectives to carry out their investigation.

“The police department has a strong proven track record of arresting those who commit murder in Alexandria, and this case can be added to their ranks.”

The U.S. Marshal Service assisted the APD in its search. Nosal said they helped find Dijuan Clark in the state where he was arrested. His location was not made public, Nosal said, to protect the safety of local officers who traveled to that area to pick him up.

In the immediate aftermath of Hall’s death, allegations surfaced that the two homicides were connected, including on a page started on the online fundraising website GoFundMe by Hall’s mother, Patrice Hall, to cover funeral expenses.

WUSA9 reported that Clark and Hall knew each other, and that Clark allegedly shot Hall last spring. According to the station, police investigated Hall after Clark’s slaying but never charged him, and Hall’s mother alleged that investigation made others think he was involved.

In an interview before a community meeting earlier this month, Cook said the slayings of Pierre Clark and Saquan Hall were connected, but that motive in Hall’s murder had yet to be determined.

Hall’s slaying was the fourth in Alexandria 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. Last month, Pierre Clark was shot on the 1000 block of Montgomery St.

Police announced April 12 that George McGee II, 22, of Capitol Heights, Md., was charged in connection with the murder of Abraha. Clarence Terry, 53, of Alexandria, was charged June 28 in connection with Baldon’s slaying. Clark’s case remains unsolved.

Officials asked anyone with further information about the investigation into Hall’s death to contact Detective Bikeramjit Gill with the Alexandria Police Department at 703-746-6751. Those with further information on Clark’s slaying are asked to contact Detective William Oakley at 703-380-5019.

The announcement of Dijuan Clark’s arrest came days before the first of two community meetings convened by city officials to help in the search for a successor to Cook, who announced last month he would retire as chief, effective October 1, after more than 37 years of service.

The meetings — held in conjunction with the International Association of Chiefs of Police — along with an
online survey, are to help officials identify the most important skills for the new police chief and the biggest challenges they will face on taking the job.

The first meeting took place Tuesday night at the Charles Houston Recreation Center, while the second occurred the following evening at Charles Beatley Central Li-rary, after the Times’ print deadline. The online survey is available through July 29.

The meeting at the Charles Houston Recreation Center was sparsely attended compared to community gatherings following homicides, which have drawn several hundred people in the past as neighbors wrestled with the causes of violent crime and how it can be prevented.

Attendees were generally positive about the relationship between the police department and the city it serves, with the caveat that they wish to see more community policing, which involves officers getting out of their patrol cars, talking to residents and building relationships with them.

City Councilor Willie Bailey cited the example of San Jose, Calif., where he said the police chief would be visible at various fairs, block parties and other events. City Councilor John Chapman said it was imperative that if a new police chief is brought in from outside Alexandria, they be brought fully up to speed with the way the city works and its various stakeholders.

An APD officer who declined to be named said it was important for the new chief to work on retaining talent, and that one way to do so would be to ensure police pay stays competitive with other jurisdictions.

Steve Mason, the city’s acting director of human resources, said the search will be long, beginning with community engagement. IACP officials will interview stakeholders on their priorities for a new chief and present their findings to the city manager’s office, and it likely will take several months for a new chief to be hired in what is a multi-stage process.