By Mae Hunt and Missy Schrott
A longtime Alexandria resident was found deceased in an Old Town business on Friday, and a New Jersey man has been charged with homicide.
Police identified the victim as Bradford Jackson, 65, and the suspect as Pankaj Bhasin, 34, of New Jersey, on Saturday afternoon.
Jackson was found dead in Window Universe, located on the second floor of 1211 King St., where he worked. His death was caused by multiple blunt and sharp force injuries, according to a spokesperson for the Northern District Medical Examiner’s Office in Manassas.
The building’s two landlords, who declined to be named in the story, said they were alerted to the situation when a neighbor told them someone was trying to steal one of their tenants’ packages.
At that point, the landlord noticed a man sitting in a car, a silver Mercedes, which didn’t belong to the suspect, parked on the street. The landlords first assumed it was an attempted car robbery, but, shortly after, the same neighbor who had alerted them about the package told them that a body had been found.
The landlords went to the business and saw that Jackson wasn’t breathing. They described the scene as “messed up” and said there were indications a struggle had taken place. Police were dispatched to the business in the 1200 block of King Street at approximately 11:49 a.m. Bhasin was apprehended at the scene.
The package, initially suspected to be part of the crime, was ultimately not connected, the landlords said. A motive for the homicide hasn’t emerged at this time and it’s not clear how Jackson and Bhasin are connected, if at all.
Friends and neighbors are mourning Jackson’s death. The citizens’ association at Warwick Village, where he lived, invited those who wished to pay tribute to Jackson to sign a poster created by neighbors in his honor that featured a drawing of him riding his bicycle and the words “You will be missed.” Friends spoke to the media about their memories about the decades-long Alexandria resident.
Boyd Walker, a resident of the 1300 block of King Street, said he’s known Jackson for years.
“He was a really friendly guy who always stopped to say hello, or yell out at me as he was riding his bike,” Walker said. “He [was] a manabout-town, very friendly. I never heard anything ill about him or anything that even gives me any clue as to why someone would want to murder him.”
Walker said Jackson had worked at Window Universe for a couple of years, and before that, had been a longtime employee of the Nina’s Dandy riverboat, a dinner boat that used to be docked at the Alexandria waterfront.
Old Town resident Hal Hardaway said Jackson and he shared a mutual interest in cars. He recalled Jackson coming by his garage frequently, riding by on his bicycles, which included a vintage Schwinn Stingray.
“We connected on cars, as he loved to go to the races at Sebring, Florida and camp out. [I] told him one of these times I’d go with him down there, as I’ve never been,” Hardaway said in an email. “…We’re all going to go sometime, but his murder is tragic and a big loss.”
Bhasin was charged with the murder and is being held without bond in the Alexandria Detention Center. He made his first court appearance on Monday and will go in front of the general district court at 11 a.m. on Aug. 14, according to a spokesperson for the Alexandria Sheriff’s Office.
“If there’s any good news in a murder, it’s that they have a suspect,” Walker said. “They’ve arraigned him, he’s not free on bail, so he’s not out in the community at all. Especially since this was a very violent incident, [it’s] very unfortunate, but I’m glad that the police were able to get there quickly and apprehend the suspect.”
Jackson’s death is the second homicide in the city this year. Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact Detective Loren King at the Alexandria Police Department at 703-746-6689.
Alexa Epitropoulos contributed to this report.