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Top 19 of VA/DC: VP Visit, New Pope 'Like Shot of Holy Spirit Juice,' Triple Stabbing at Motel, Debate on Gun Laws

Top news of the week from our Patch sites around Virginia and DC.

Patch has 31 community sites in Virginia and D.C. Here are some of the top stories from around the region over the past week.

19. More Than 200 Pack Serial Groper Meeting Thursday Night in Springfield: Approximately 250 Springfield residents packed a Fairfax County Police community meeting Thursday night to discuss their concerns about a series of assaults — likely 22 in all — by a man dubbed "the serial groper," that have occurred throughout the Springfield area since September. FCPD scheduled the meeting to update residents on the case and answer questions from concerned citizens.

18. Vice President Biden Visits Injured Officer's First Responders: Vice President Joe Biden visited the Alexandria Police Department last Friday, meeting with first responders who were on the scene immediately after Officer Peter Laboy was injured in Old Town. The police department announced the news on its Facebook page. "Vice President Joe Biden paid a visit to the Alexandria Police Department to meet with Officer Peter Laboy’s Motor Unit to express his condolences and wish him well," reads the post.

17. Triple Stabbing at Fredericksburg Days Inn: Three people were transported to Mary Washington Hospital Monday morning following an altercation at the Day's Inn Fredericksburg South, Lt. Troy J. Skebo of the Spotsylvania Sheriff's Office said. Sheriff's Office staff received an assault in progress call at about 9:18 a.m.  “Deputies arrived on scene within one minute to find multiple victims with stab wounds,” Skebo said.  Two victims were transported to Mary Washington Hospital with multiple stab wounds and one was transported with a head injury, he said.  All victims are reported stable with non life threating injuries. A fourth victim with stab wounds to his hand refused transport, Skebo said.

16. Sub Shop Owner Linked to ExplosionNew details have emerged in last month's explosion at the Sub Shop in Lorton. A suspect, 25-year-old Horace Thompson, is being held without bond, and has been declared by Fairfax County Police as an "associate" of Sub Shop owner Lawrence Reese. Additionally, police have executed a search warrant on a vehicle belonging to Reese.  Reese and Thompson were both injured by the blast, which came from inside the sandwich shop, located at 9504 Richmond Hwy., at around 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 6. 

15. Injured Officer Long 'Junior' V. Dinh Remains Hospitalized Two Weeks After Head-on Crash: Fairfax County said Officer Long "Junior" V. Dinh, remains hospitalized after suffering severe injuries in last month's crash. A car struck his police cruiser after police responded to a domestic call in the 4800 block of Tapestry Drive. Police pursued the man on Little River Turnpike and it was while Dinh was sitting in his cruiser in the westbound lanes that 40-year-old Cicero I. Limberea, who was traveling eastbound in the westbound lanes, struck the police cruiser head-on. Limberea died at the scene. Dinh had to be cut of out the police cruiser to be treated for his injuries following the crash and was immediately rushed to a local hospital where he continues to recover.

14. Teenager Reports Sex Assault on Lake Braddock Drive in Burke: A 15-year-old reported she was walking when someone approached from behind and touched her inappropriately. The helicopter, a K-9 team, and several officers searched for the suspect, but he was not located.

13. The man who led state and local law enforcement officers on a car chase Sunday morning before crashing near Sugarland Run has been connected with a series of burglaries including ones in Chantilly. Victor T. Ellis, 25, of the Hybla Valley area in Fairfax County, now faces charges on three counts of burglary, one count of breaking and entering, two counts of grand larceny, one count of credit card larceny and one count of credit card fraud, according to a press release from the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office.

12. Suspect Arrested in Pizza Delivery Armed Robbery: Police have identified and arrested one of three suspects in the reported armed robbery of a Woodbridge pizza delivery driver in Dale City, Prince William County Police spokesperson Jonathan Perok said.  Jordan Keynen Baker Wilson, 18, was charged with robbery and use of a firearm in commission of a felony. The 55-year-old victim told police that he was delivering pizzas to the 4300 block of Welsh Lane in Dale City on Feb. 8 when he was approached by three masked men, Perok said. One of the men reportedly pulled out a handgun and demanded money. The three men then reportedly took the pizzas and an undisclosed amount of cash and ran.

11. Paisano's Pizza Hopes to Open in May at Shops at Telegraph Village: Paisano's Pizza is preparing to open in May, said Sheryl Simeck, vice president of marketing and communications for The Rappaport Companies. The pizza shop recently leased a portion of the old karate studio across from Grounded Coffee and Festival of Flowers at Shops at Telegraph Village. At the moment, the owner is doing some construction to separate the two spaces, because Paisano's will only take up space #140, which is 1,500 sq. ft. of the whole building.

10. Belle Haven Safeway Reopens Friday: The Belle View Safeway will re-open on Friday morning. The store will reopen after being closed for the past six months for renovations, including an expansion of the store. 

9. Rebuilding Together Helps Local Woman: Nina Snyder of Hybla Valley has had a tough time leaving her home. Snyder is disabled and unable to leave her home without assistance. In order to get to doctors' appointments and visit family, she would call her local fire station throughout the week to help her leave her home. On Wednesday, firefighters from Shift A from Mount Vernon Fire Station and volunteers and staff from Rebuilding Together constructed a ramp for Snyder.

8. : 'Preventing Another Newtown: A Conversation on Gun Violence in America' was held at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington. A forum on preventing gun violence Monday night turned into a heated debate on gun laws.

7. Crystal City-Potomac Yard Transitway to Open in Spring 2014: The Crystal City-Potomac Yard transitway—the first network of bus-only lanes to be built in the Washington, D.C. region—will debut in spring 2014, according to a report from The Washington Post. The transitway will ultimately connect Braddock Road and Crystal City Metro stations, with a future extension to Pentagon City. Construction began in July. Alexandria officials initially suggested line would open at the end of 2013.

6. Fewer Community Police Officers? Board Weighs Budget Proposal: Arlington's community policing roster could grow shorter if the county board accepts certain reductions in the proposed $1.1 billion budget currently being hashed out. Doing so would mean fewer officers available to attend community, civic and business events, fewer available to give safety presentations and fewer to focus on quality of life issues of a single community, according to a departmental email. Police Chief Doug Scott told Patch on Tuesday that he's begun to hear from residents and civic associations about the matter. 

5. Woman Charged in Drunk Driving Accident on Interstate 66: Fairfax police officer hit in Monday crash has been released; two young children in the striking vehicle remain at a local hospital.

4. Residents Petition for Trader Joe's in Old Magruder's Space: More than 600 people are asking the grocer to fill an empty storefront on Maple Avenue as businesses in town continue to close their doors.

3. Young Catholics React: New Pope Francis is "Like a Shot of Holy Spirit Juice"There was running in the halls, talking and happy squealing during class and at least one mass student walkout during a test Wednesday—all completely acceptable behavior at the Catholic Seton School—at least when a new pope is announced.

2. Gosnell Road: Waiting for an 'Inevitable Accident': If you're a resident of Tysons Corner, odds are you're running an errand or catching a bus by foot or bike. Making a trip mid-day — during a lunch hour, perhaps — is a breeze. Making that same trip at 6:45 a.m., in the dark, during rush hour, is more or less taking your life into your own hands. And whose fault is that? We've debated that very question on Patch tirelessly. But this week, TheTysonsCorner.com ventures cyclists aren't to blame — and neither are pedestrians, nor motorists. Poor planning and a lack of action by the Board of Supervisors is what really drives pedestrian danger in Tysons at the moment, the site purports. And with the opening of the Silver Line, TheTysonsCorner.com says, it could get worse — not only because there will be more people in the area, but also because they'll be looking for shortcuts.

1. Edwin Barcus Jr., 27, of Georgia, pleaded guilty to running a commercial sex business that included juvenile girls, a number of them from Herndon. Other juveniles involved in the case are from Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Barcus faces a mandatory minimum of 20 years for pleading guilty to engaging in child exploitation, and a maximum of life in prison. He will be sentenced on June 7. According to an FBI press release Barcus has been leading and organizing a criminal sex organization that has prostituted at least 23 women. At least four of those women were 16, and at least three were 17 when he began prostituting them.

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