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Alexandria Resident Ruthanne Lodato Killed in Shooting Thursday

Unknown man, still at large, opened fire after knocking on door of home on Ridge Road Drive in Alexandria.

Alexandria police investigate the shooting in the 2400 block of Ridge Road Drive. Photo by Alexandria Police
Alexandria police investigate the shooting in the 2400 block of Ridge Road Drive. Photo by Alexandria Police
A well-known Alexandria resident, Ruthanne Lodato, died Thursday after being shot by an unknown man who appeared on the doorstep at a home at 2400 Ridge Road Drive, according to police. 

The man, described as an elderly white male, balding with gray hair and a beard, reportedly knocked on the door at about 11:30 a.m. and opened fire. He was still at large late Thursday night. As of early Friday morning, police had not indicated any change in the investigation. 

Another woman, described as a caregiver, was injured in the shooting, shot in the arm, according to police and family friends. 

A third woman, described as a grandmother, was reportedly staying at a neighbor's house after the shooting, according to a family friend.

The shooting prompted swift action by police and nearby schools. Police searched the area throughout the day and evening with police dogs while a helicopter flew overhead.

Some have raised concerns that the shooting could be related to the Ron Kirby homicide, which took place Nov. 11 in the Rosemont neighborhood of Alexandria, about a mile from Thursday's shooting. Kirby was also well-known in the community and was shot at about the same time of day. 

“Obviously, that occurs to us,” Alexandria Police Chief Earl L. Cook told The Washington Post, when asked about a possible connection. “We will have to look to see those similarities.”

Alexandria public schools and surrounding private schools and daycare centers went into lockdown mode after the shooting. It's uncertain what time the lockdown began, but an alert appeared on the ACPS Web site at about 1 p.m. The lockdown was lifted at about 1:45 p.m. at ACPS schools.

In addition to the nearby private schools and daycare centers that went into lockdown the ACPS schools that went into lockdown were: T.C. Williams High School, Charles Barrett Elementary, Minnie Howard Campus, Matthew Maury Elementary, George Mason Elementary, Douglas MacArthur Elementary.

The investigation is ongoing and very active. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact the Alexandria Police Department at (703) 746.6864.

NoBS February 08, 2014 at 04:15 PM
ConcernedVirginian, I have limited info about that crime. I'm actually unsure whether anyone was in the home, so it might have been a robbery as opposed to a burglary. As told to me, it was called a "robbery" but that person may have had it wrong. I just repeated what I was told. I honestly don't know if the house was empty or occupied at the time the crime occurred or whether the occupant was threatened or harmed in any way.
Concerned Virginian February 09, 2014 at 10:09 AM
Haunches, I definitely agree with you that the word choice is very poor. And also, to reiterate, I'm not trying to get into an argument with you; just a conversation. Question-why don't you believe in the helicopter being out for a follow-up search? There are actually a lot of things that a helicopter can do, such as use technology and sensors (I don't know what all tools Fairfax has) that seek out weapons that may be on the grounds, or to locate enclaves or encampments where people are living that the public didn't know about. The use on the second day is definitely very relevant. Plus, in an area like DC/NOVA where a helicopter probably flies of your region on a daily basis for one reason or another, it's not too unusual. But I do assure you there are good uses for that follow up search.
NoBS February 09, 2014 at 11:32 AM
I was thinking maybe a helicopter could see where debris and brush had been moved or trampled to get an idea which way the suspect may have run, or maybe footprints in mud, etc. They could also be looking for people walking around in the area who fit the description. Sickos often revisit the scene.
oldtowner February 09, 2014 at 05:28 PM
Thanks to "Concerned Virginian" for adding a bit of sanity to this "discussion." This is truly a tragedy, but enough second-guessing the Police Dept. And what's the problem with "borrowing" a helicopter from Fairfax? If the APD wanted to buy their own, you'd have citizens complaining it was a waste of money. People seem to want to cut budgets, cut City staff, until something like this happens. Let the police do their jobs.
Concerned Virginian February 10, 2014 at 09:49 AM
Thanks Old Towner. The citizens of this city should really take a hard look at some of the things the city council prioritizes in terms of budgeting, like building those new high-rises primarily for ARHA use. The council wants to cut a few more million from the police after the few they cut last year. It's bad enough that new officers make 10K less than the rest of the surrounding jurisdictions and no one does anything about it, but if the citizens KNEW some of the things the police department goes without, they would be in an uproar.
NoBS February 10, 2014 at 10:16 AM
Concerned Virginian, please tell us what the APD is going without so we can lobby city council to increase the APD budget. Do you have a link to budget and specific page citations? The more specific the info, the better. Let private developers build high rises. We don't need taxpayer money doing that. Our money can do to police and other first responders, teachers, etc.
matt tallmerq February 10, 2014 at 03:17 PM
FYI: In case anyone cares, there was another drive-by shooting in North Old Town yesterday (Sunday, 2/9/14) around 2 ish. It occurred on N. Payne Street. Once again, APD found no victim and no sign of a shooter but are keeping this case open -- rather than closing them as they did the other drive-bys. Great. We have two unsolved murders and an apparent group of drive-by retaliation shootings.
Concerned Virginian February 10, 2014 at 03:33 PM
Matt, I need some factual clarification from you on the following items: 1. Please provide proof that other drive-by shootings in Old Town are "closed" rather than kept open. You should be aware that these cases are all kept open, but if no new information comes, they remain in a pending status. 2. How was this a retaliation shooting? It is very important for us to have conversations in which the opinions and statements are relevant and fact-based. Also, basically every single drive-by shooting in Old Town where there is no victim and suspects can't be found---these are all drug-related and the suspects involved are ARHA recipients. APD can never find victims and suspects because these particular subjects live by the "don't talk to the police" mantra, which is an incorrect perspective. If you want to see better things come from your neighborhood, always be the best witness you can be, if the opportunity arises.
matt tallmerq February 10, 2014 at 03:47 PM
Sources of mine in APD and on Council say the two previous shootings were closed due to lack of evidence. The one I reported two Fridays ago (I heard four shots in rapid succession), I told the officer everything I knew. He said without knowing where the shots came from, there was nothing APD could do. And, if you read my post rather than just lashing out, I did not say it was a retaliation shooting. I said it was an "apparent" retaliation shooting. Figure it out: you have several drive-by shootings relatively quickly after each other. You don't have to be the FBI Director to determine these are related and likely retaliatory. Finally, assuming all are drug-related and involve ARHA residents is, how to phrase it, racist?
OldTownEer February 10, 2014 at 08:55 PM
10:1 that "Concerned Virginian" or "oldtowner" either work for APD or are family members of those that do. I don't know how anyone could have lived in Alexandria for more than 6 months without understanding what a completely inept, overly funded nepotistic organization we have in the APD. They're really only good at revenue generating crimes, like issuing tickets and citations for minor traffic offenses. Any time a real crime comes up, they fumble their way though it and sometimes luck out. More often than not, the crime just goes quietly into the night...
Concerned Virginian February 10, 2014 at 10:51 PM
Matt Tallmerq, I assure you I'm not lashing out. I'm committed to having an honest discussion about this, rather than an argument, if you are as well. First, I'm not sure how you bring up race with my statement about the drive-bys being over drugs and where the subjects come from. It's not race; the reality is that a lot of them are coming from ARHA properties, primarily the ones near the Braddock Metro. Let's try this--what issues do you have with APD's response to the shooting's in North Old Town? I will try to answer them earnestly. A lot of times there's simple misunderstandings regarding what police can and can't do. Thanks.
Concerned Virginian February 10, 2014 at 10:52 PM
OldTownEer, Please provide specific examples of APD being: 1. Inept 2. Overly funded 3. Nepotistic I see that you only criticize for the crimes that have not been solved yet, with no praise for the crimes that have been. For example, the Holly St. homicide last year. I await your reply.
matt tallmerq February 11, 2014 at 11:39 AM
Concerned: Glad to read your response. I, too, want a real dialogue. My problem with APD is that we have had a steady increase in petty crime (which started around the time the Old Town Grocery opened), which has escalated to armed robberies, and (most recently) drive-by shootings. We (by that I mean a number of residents) have tried to get APD to increase their patrols and to be more pro-active. We also have pleaded with Council and the City to shut down that establishment -- which Councilman Smedberg referred to as a "criminal enterprise" at a public hearing. Gangs of kids loiter in front of the store, and it was one of that group that the drive-by shooting on North Columbus was aimed at. APD has yet to do anything about the store. In terms of response to the shootings, I understand that there is not much APD can do with no victims, etc. That having been said, a couple of APD folks I know have told me that unless we (the complaining "witnesses") can tell them where the shots came from, APD does a cursory investigation. In other instances, APD told people reporting gunshots that what they actually heard were firecrackers (one such ear witness just got back from his fourth tour in Afghanistan and told APD that he knows what gunshots sound like. According to this person, APD ignored him and did not even write down his info). APD's refusal to hand out any crime information just adds to our frustration. Is that enough?
oldtowner February 11, 2014 at 04:18 PM
I do not and have never worked for the APD....no connection whatsoever. Neither have any family members. I just get tired of all the folks who second-guess the police, folks who really have no idea what is going on. And I should note that OldTownEer did not answer any of Concerned Virginia's questions. It's easy to spout off criticism.
Concerned Virginian February 12, 2014 at 08:23 AM
Tallmer, All valid questions. The simplest answer, and unfortunately one you won't like very much, is that police staffing is not a priority in Old Town and Del Ray the way it is in the West End of the city. Statistically, the West End has much more crime than any other part of the city. I think FBI uniform crime reports are available online, but if not, something like 57-60% of Alexandria's crime is applicable to the West End. So, it is a matter of resource allocation. The officers who work Old Town are highly proactive, but there simply isn't enough of them. A lot of times they may be tied up on calls for service (Old Town=constant car accidents)., leaving no one else with the ability to do the pro-active work You told of the man who got back from Afghanistan and heard gun-shots, and the police didn't take his information now. That sounds like an officer didn't do his due diligence. One lazy one doesn't reflect the whole department, but there may have been other reasons--when the man was interviewed, perhaps others already had been interviewed and they couldn't find a victim or suspects. If all he heard was shots, just like the other witnesses, maybe they decided it wasn't needed to take the information. Yet, I wasn't there for that scenario, so just speculating. APD not releasing crime information is frustrating, and it is a practice amongst many Virginia law enforcement agencies. Not sure what we can do about that one honestly. I suppose get as much as you can from FOIA requests. Additionally, back to the patrol issue and the prioritization of the West End, there is one more reason---the APD has a high turnover rate. I hate to be one of those people that harps about money, but the city of Alexandria sincerely does not pay enough. People in our academy already have mapped out where they are leaving for. Starting salary is 43K and is at least 48K in other jurisdictions. A first year officer in Alexandria is still making 43K while a first year Arlington officer gets bumped to 53K, and Fairfax City 55K. The police department can't keep people, so the void occurs on the streets. If you are friends with city council men and women, you will learn that they simply do not value their officers..and it shows in retention rate. Lastly, as for petty crime, it's possible that it is up, especially with smaller numbers of staffing. Yet, there is another reason that you don't hear about a lot of arrests---there are lots of bike theft and other larcenies, and many times APD actually finds out who it is, but there is an interesting element to some of the residents of Old Town (some, not all)---and that is they will call the police to investigate their crimes and get their property back, and at the end they decide not to assist the police by going to court. This even happens in some of the armed robbery cases! ("Oh they're young and being silly, they won't rob me again, I don't want to press charges"). If they don't go to testify, no one gets arrested and the case gets dropped. So, simply put, some of the citizens need to do better. Sorry for such a long post-I wanted to do due diligence to your questions.
matt tallmerq February 12, 2014 at 11:56 AM
Concerned: Thanks for your thoughtful answer. I really do appreciate it. I completely agree about APD being under paid. I served for 15 years as a member of BFAAC and, one of the first things I did as a citizen rep, was meet with Eric Ratliff and listen to his concerns. Have also had innumerable conversations with Joe Sesky about this. At BFAAC, I argued that the City's compensation system is -- in a word -- wrong. They put the top priority on benefits; while my guess is most workers would rather see bigger paychecks. Some of us (myself included) think it should come in the form of merit pay rather than cross-the-board pay hikes -- but we can agree to disagree over that. Once again, I welcome the conversation. Concerned, if you want to continue this off line let me know, and I will give you my email.
matt tallmerq February 18, 2014 at 12:53 PM
To all: This is what I mean about APD provided no details on crimes. Below are two crime reports about the same type of crime taken verbatim from last Thursday's Washington Post local section. First is from Alexandria PD; second from Arlington: SEXUAL ASSAULTS Jordan St. N., 200 block, 12:38 p.m. Jan. 30. A sexual assault was reported. SEXUAL ASSAULTS 21st St. N., 1600 block, 9:56 a.m. Feb. 3. A man touched a female pedestrian’s buttocks. When she turned around, the man fondled himself and fled.
NoBS February 18, 2014 at 04:54 PM
There was report of a "kidnapping" in the Van Dorn Street area a week or so ago that was listed in the crime reports. A Facebook friend of mine was alarmed and ask Councilman Justin Wilson about it. He then reported that it was a situation involving a business where two employees had an argument and one employee temporarily blocked the other from leaving a room. So, it wasn't a "kidnapping" in the alarming "snatched off the street for ransom" type. I agree the Alexandria police could do a better job in their crime report descriptions.
oldtowner February 18, 2014 at 05:12 PM
to BS: look up the Virginia legal definition of "kidnapping" and you'll see why they classified it as a "kidnapping." Crime statistics are reported in fairly strict legal ways. And to matt t: unless you were present at both crimes, I don't see how you know they were the "same type of crime." Get a grip folks.
NoBS February 19, 2014 at 07:32 AM
oldtowner, I know that is meets the legal definition of kidnapping, but without details, we are left to wonder whether it's a snatch off the street kidnapping or something less alarming. I think that was Matt's point - we need more detail.
Concerned Virginian February 19, 2014 at 08:24 AM
Okay, I have posted a link below to the Washington Post's February 12th Crime Reports. You will notice that Alexandria's and Arlington's crimes are listed. You will also notice that they are described the same way. This is how the Post lists them, most likely for purposes of making articles fit. This isn't "Alexandria Police isn't providing enough detail". This is the Post making their own summarizations from the official reports they receive. Why, I ask, did people on this forum not criticize Arlington Police too? I even posted a second link for Fairfax County crime, which also encompasses Fairfax City, Vienna, and Herndon. You, again, will see that the crime is listed the same manner. I know that we are all kind of looking for reasons to blame the police, APD specifically, but we need to dig a little bit deeper into some of these things. http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/alexandria-and-arlington-crime-report/2014/02/10/b2b3955e-8f4a-11e3-878e-d76656564a01_story.html http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/fairfax-county-crime-report/2014/02/10/47074ad6-8c38-11e3-95dd-36ff657a4dae_story.html
matt tallmerq February 19, 2014 at 03:37 PM
Concerned: I have spoken with the WaPo folks who put together those reports. They tell we they report precisely what is given to them by the local PDs and THEN edit for length. In other words, APD does provide less information. In addition, there was a lengthy series on this topic in the Gazette Packet last year I believe. You could find it on line or by calling Michael Pope. And both the Ga
matt tallmerq February 19, 2014 at 03:37 PM
sorry.... both the Gazette and Alexandria Times have written edits criticizing APD for not adequately reporting crimes.
Concerned Virginian February 19, 2014 at 09:46 PM
Yeah, I suppose we would just have to see what APD specifically gives to them. It sounds like there may be similar means of reporting with Fairfax and Arlington too, since both are coming out very similar. I'd believe it though--Virginia law enforcement agencies are known for being less than forthcoming with details and full reporting.
matt tallmerq February 20, 2014 at 02:44 PM
Know can you understand our concern? We report crimes; nothing is listed in WaPo or local papers, and no one from APD ever tells us what happens thereafter? Our concern increases when these crimes involve shootings or similar offenses.
Mike Dray February 23, 2014 at 02:11 PM
Matt Tallmerq- There is a steady increase of crime around the Old Town Grocery to now include armed robberies, drive-by shootings, and gangs? Where do you get your stats? There hasn't been a drive by shooting in all of Alexandria for a very long time let alone yuppy Old Town. Gangs? Not unless the bus from DC breaks down. Armed robberies? Maybe the sporadic robbery in the neighborhood, but unless they are robbing the grocery, that's not related since robberies occur everywhere in Old Town. There actually is very little to no crime reported around the Old Town Grocery. Even your crimereports.com shows only 1 crime in the past 45 days on that entire block (vandalism wow). I agree the store brings foot traffic to the area which includes some people you might find unfavorable. However, as Alexandria is still a very highly populated city this is something thy should be expected unless you bought your house in 1900.
Mike Dray February 23, 2014 at 02:22 PM
Matt Tallmerq, The reported shooting on 2/9/14 was not a drive-by shooting. The source of which you get your info is entirely wrong and you are drawing from that incorrectly. That or you are fabricating or drawing your own conclusions of what occurs in Old Town. You would be surprised how many times kids/teens throwing a stick of fire crackers gets people scared over gun shots. Alexandria Police, even though extremely underfunded, under paid, and over worked, still makes Alexandria's crime rate much less than all neighboring areas.
matt tallmerq February 24, 2014 at 10:08 AM
The report I got from a Councilmember, who got it from APD describes the 2/9 shooting as a drive by. Where do you get your facts? Or the one of North Payne two weeks ago, or how about the one last night? What planet are you from, or what city agency are you defending?
Concerned Virginian February 28, 2014 at 09:07 AM
Rashad Youngs proposed city budget includes a cut in the police budget and yet again, no increase to police starring pay. More patrol officers have given their notice this week. Expect incidents like this to continue, as well as the abysmal staffing levels you see in Old Town. Want to change it? Go stand up for your police force in front of City Council.
Concerned Virginian February 28, 2014 at 09:08 AM
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