Posted on June 13, 2022
ARLINGTON, Va. – An Alexandria man has been arrested after damaging property in an attempt to enter Thomas Jefferson Middle School during a school lockdown. Alexander Sentayhu, 25, was charged with destroying public property and surrendered to police on the evening of June 10, 2022. He was later released on unsecured bail. The investigation into the incident is ongoing and additional charges may be sought at a later date.
At approximately 12:21 p.m. on June 10, police were dispatched to report an assault with injury involving a weapon inside a business in the 200 block of S. Glebe Road. In the interest of public safety, responding officers requested that Thomas Jefferson Middle School be placed in safe status due to its proximity to the business. Shortly after, the suspect arrived to pick up his relatives who are students at the school. After finding the school locked, the suspect called the emergency communications center stating he was armed and requested access to the school. At approximately 12:51 p.m., the suspect kicked the door, breaking the glass, and continued to try to force the door open. He failed to enter and left the scene before officers arrived.
During the investigation, officers identified the suspect and contacted him by phone. Preliminary investigation says suspect received text messages from a parent inside the school stating he was in quarantine and responded believing there might be an act of violence inside .
This remains an active criminal investigation and anyone with information that may assist in the investigation is asked to contact the Arlington County Police Department Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703-228-4180 or [email protected] arlingtonva.us. Information may also be reported anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers Hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).
Response and communication during a reported active violence event
We understand the concerns of the community regarding reports of incidents of active violence, however, the incident that occurred at Thomas Jefferson Middle School could have had a tragic outcome. An unidentified individual attempting to break into a locked school could be perceived as an active threat.
The Arlington County Police Department’s (ACPD) top priority remains the safety and security of our community. In the event of a reported incident of active violence at a school, the ACPD and our local, state and federal law enforcement partners will respond to address any threats and investigate the incident.
Arlington Public Schools (APS) and ACPD will communicate with the school community, as well as the wider community regarding the incident. Updates will include a request to avoid the area to allow for public safety response, where to meet with students/guardians, and other critical information. Updates will go through ACPD twitter accountArlington Alert and APS School Talk.
Maintaining Police Operational Readiness
The ACPD is committed to maintaining operational readiness by training and equipping officers to effectively respond to any reported public safety threat in Arlington County. Over the past 20 years, the CSPA has developed a number of programs to better prepare officers to respond to reports of active violence. The current approach began in 1999, with the development of a training program after the Columbine High School tragedy. Over the years, the CSPA has continually updated and expanded the tactics and training of these programs to deal with offender changes.
In January 2013, ACPD formed the Tactical Training Unit (TTU) to ensure consistent training across the agency as we prepare and equip officers to take immediate action to stop the threat during an event active violence; provide medical care as quickly as possible; and to effectively command and control the scene in conjunction with Arlington County Fire and EMS personnel. TTU training incorporates the disciplines of Active Violence Response, Emergency Tactical Casualty Care, Control Tactics, Firearms, General Tactical Instruction, and Taser. As part of their readiness training, patrol officers respond to simulated unannounced training scenarios and practice responding to various incidents. ACPD participates in the Arlington County High Threat Response Program which is designed to ensure an integrated response to active violence events by police, fire departments and other county/regional entities that is enhanced through collaborative training.
Additionally, the ACPD works collaboratively with Arlington Public Schools and Public Safety Communications and Emergency Management on emergency response to reports of active criminal incidents, including family reunification. ACPD is also a member of APS’ Threat Assessment Team and Security Audit Committee.
Photo by Alexander Sentayhu