Area Businesses Suffer During Police Standoff

Area Businesses Suffer During Police Standoff

Road closure limited customers for two days.

Thomas Perez with the clip of his television news interview.

Thomas Perez with the clip of his television news interview.

In the early morning hours of Thursday, March 30, the situation with a woman in crisis came to a peaceful end after a 34-hour standoff with police. Finally the lanes of traffic were open on Richmond Highway once again. For police and the woman in crisis, the negotiations were a success. (See page 4.) But the two-day ordeal did deliver a blow to the businesses in the Hybla Valley area.

“I opened but nobody came,” said Zulfiger, owner of A-One Groceries which is located right across from the Honda dealer where the police activity was taking place. He saw the helicopters and at one time, there were three drones flying around. He figured he lost about $300-$400 each day.

A few doors down at Family Fortune Chinese Food, it was a similar situation. “Business was bad, people came only to turn around,” the owner said. “We sat down and had conversations, nothing to do,” the owner said.

Next door at a Mexican restaurant, it was the same story. “We lost a little bit of money,” said owner Thomas Perez. “I need to open, I had to pay the employees, we were hoping she would give up,” he s;aid. There was one bright spot for Perez though, he got interviewed by a local TV news station, and his friends saw it so he saved the clip on his cell phone.

The local chamber of commerce was watching the road closure too. 

“This situation was a terrible blow to the businesses in the area blockaded by the police. We hope the community will reach out and support these affected businesses that suffered two days of loss with no customers,” said Holly Hicks Dougherty, President of the Mount Vernon Springfield Chamber of Commerce.

It all started on Tuesday, March 28 around 11 a.m., when officers were called to the 7200 block Fordson Road in Alexandria to check the area for Brittany Copelin, 29, who was reported missing by Charles County Sheriff’s Office. They found the 2016 Jeep SUV with Copelin driving and attempted to stop the Jeep but Copelin drove away. Officers engaged in a short pursuit until the Jeep came to a stop on the service road at Richmond Highway and Arlington Boulevard. Copelin displayed a firearm to officers and refused to exit the Jeep. This led to a standoff that ended just after midnight early Thursday morning. Copelin is now facing felony charges, police said.

One block south of the scene, Mount Vernon Plaza was impacted for several days. The Kentucky Fried Chicken and Five Guys closed. “Yes, it did affect business,” one employee of the plaza said but added that she was glad the situation was resolved peacefully. At the IHOP, business “wasn’t that great,” said one manager.

Information about what was going on filtered in and out. “Most people thought it was over but it wasn’t,” said Maryanne Mattern, who was also concerned about the employees of the Honda dealer where the car was surrounded.

The gun that was involved.