A murder in the heart of town shut down the northbound lane of Washington Street for several hours on Tuesday as crime-scene technicians examined the lobby of 105 South Washington Street, the state's probation and parole office. Public safety officials said that they received a call shortly after 10:30 a.m. that Kareem Timmons, 29, was bleeding profusely after receiving what one police spokesman described as “significant trauma to the body.”
“At this point, we don’t know what the manner of death was,” said Lt. Jamie Bartlett, the department’s public information officer, as police secured the scene Tuesday morning. “We’re going to have to wait for the results of the autopsy.”
But even before the autopsy was performed, Police Chief David Baker announced that officers have arrested Derrick Wright, 27, of the 400 block of North Armistead St., in connection with the murder. Alexandria public-information officer Brian Hannigan said that the suspect was one of the victim’s “closest friends,” a relationship Hannigan said mitigated the fear some neighbors had expressed that the murder had frightened many area workers and residents.
“This is tragic,” said Hannigan after Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. “But from a public-safety standpoint, it’s reassuring that this was not a random act of violence.”
YELLOW CRIME-SCENE tape bounced in the breeze Tuesday afternoon as a swarm of police officers and sheriff’s deputies secured the scene. Paramedics and firefighters were the first to arrive on the scene, with nearby police officers responding minutes later. Although Timmons was responsive when the first-responders arrived, he died shortly afterward. Bartlett said that his body remained in the lobby for several hours while crime-scene technicians looked for evidence and detectives scoured the neighborhood.
“There was a lot of blood,” said Bartlett. “We’re trying to collect as much evidence as we can.”
Bartlett said that two crime-scene technicians were working in the lobby as 15 detectives fanned out looking for security camera footage of the area or eyewitnesses. For several hours, they photographed the scene, diagrammed the position of the corpse, took blood samples from the lobby of the probation office and dusted for fingerprints. As noon approached, King Street filled with lunchtime crowds who peered into the murder scene.
“At first, I thought there was somebody important in town,” said David Glenn, who was watching the scene from the corner of Prince Street and South Washington Street. “Then I found out what had happened. This is just tragic, there’s no other way to describe it.”
Directly across the street from the scene of the crime, children who attended preschool at Washington Street Methodist Church were put on lockdown as church officials wondered about the crime scene. Assistant Pastor Mark Mrini said that members of the church barely noticed that the Adult Probation and Parole Office was across the street.
“I never gave it a second thought before,” said Mrini. “I might now.”
COSI manager Robert Bates said that his employees and customers were curious about what was going on across the street. But he said he didn’t think that his opinion of the area would change as a result of the homicide.
“This neighborhood is usually pretty safe,” said Bates. “I think our customers will still want to come here, and I still think this is a safe neighborhood.”
COURT RECORDS show that Timmons was arrested at 10:22 p.m. on Nov. 28 for a felony possession of cocaine with the intent to manufacture or sell. He was held without bail until a Dec. 19 hearing. Documents on file at the courthouse indicate that Timmons was a native of New York who lived in Oxon Hill, Md., until his arrest two months ago. Police officials said that Timmons and Wright had a close association.
“They were friends,” said Bartlett. “It was a longtime friendship, since they were young.”
A courthouse search of Wright’s record shows a number of minor charges, everything from trespass to grand-theft auto to driving with a revoked license. On Oct. 24, Circuit Court Clerk Edward Semonian sent Wright a letter informing him that a check he received for payment of court costs was returned for payment stopped.
“At this time, this office will no longer accept personal checks for the payment of costs,” wrote Semonian in an Oct. 24 letter to Wright. “Please forward a certified check or money order to cover this check.”