Alexandria residents, city officials note safety concerns after juvenile shot in shopping center

Alexandria Police are continuing their investigation into a juvenile being shot in a busy shopping center Tuesday afternoon.

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Police tell FOX 5 the juvenile suffered non-life-threatening injuries. They believe the shooter ran away before arriving to the scene.

Victoria Russell was in the area shortly after the shooting, which happened at Bradlee Center along King Street shortly before 4 p.m.

"Honestly, very surprised, because this area is a very calm, very chill area, so whatever it was, I hope that, they got to the bottom of it, but that the kids are alright, you know," Russell said.

 FOX 5 has spoken with several people who say school students congregate in the area after school.

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In a statement, the district says the school year is off to a good start overall, and that they’re focused on the academic, emotional, and social well-being of students.

Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson tells FOX 5 the shooter needs to be arrested, but also says students as a whole are still acclimating to life back in the classroom.

"We knew going in that this was going to be a challenging time, and I think that’s part of the reason we worked in partnership with the schools to expand those supports to help our kids, but we certainly have more work to do," Wilson said.

There was controversy in Alexandria after City Council voted to remove School Resource Officers from buildings. Mayor Wilson did not support the move.

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However, the district tells FOX 5 the SRO’s were more of a presence in the school and didn’t play much of a role in conflict resolution.

Wilson says there were additional mental health resources created and bolstered over the summer to address the needs of students,

"Unfortunately, for those past 18 months, our kids have been separated from those services. And so we’re now, for the very first time, bringing those kids back into school for most of them. And unfortunately, we do have some lingering impacts from a very, very difficult time," Wilson said.

Wilson also added that communication between the council, the district, the school board, and the police is very much ongoing with the hopes of keeping students and the public safe.

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The principal of Alexandria City High School sent out a letter to parents Wednesday evening, saying: 

Dear Titan Students, Families, and Friends, 

All of us at Alexandria City High School (ACHS) share the community’s concern in hearing of a violent act yesterday afternoon in an area not far from our school. Our hearts go out to our Titan who was injured, and we have been in touch with the family to express our support. Thankfully, the injury was not life-threatening and the student is recovering at home. We all appreciate the quick response of the Alexandria Police Department (APD) to this incident and recognize that their investigation is active and ongoing at this time. APD issued a press release this afternoon and will continue to share information with the community as it becomes available. I appreciate your patience and understanding in communicating during an active police investigation. 

I have spoken today with Superintendent Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr. and with Acting Chief of Police Don Hayes. Our school division works closely with Alexandria law enforcement to ensure the safety and security of our schools, students and staff. We can assure our school community that we will continue to be in close communication and collaborate on the safety of our schools. We have resources and staff on site, in collaboration with the ACPS Department of Student Services and Equity, to support our Titan students and staff. Our Titans also benefit from the lessons that our staff design and deliver regularly to support our students' social, emotional and academic learning (SEAL); these reflect our ongoing commitment to restorative practices that include community circles in our classrooms. As always, please know that the Titan team is here to support you! 

Peter Balas