VIRGINIA — There was plenty of news that interested readers across Northern Virginia in 2022, from political stories to transportation and development updates. Gun violence drew attention with the fatal shootings of three University of Virginia football players on a bus, and the slayings of Chesapeake Walmart workers by a fellow employee.
Readers were following major transportation milestones reached on interstates and public transit. Metro opened its Silver Line extension with new service to Dulles International Airport and Loudoun County. Metro’s new Potomac Yard Station in Alexandria could open in May 2023. On the roads, the I-66 Express Lanes outside the Beltway opened, and the Express Lanes extension on I-495 to the American Legion Bridge started construction. Meanwhile, the I-95 Express Lanes extension to Fredericksburg is expected to open by the end of 2023.
In political news, a mask mandate in schools ended in March with legislation signed by Gov. Glenn Youngkin. The governor drew some criticism for setting up an email address for families to report divisive practices in schools and introducing guidelines that affect transgender student rights. On the local level, local governments took steps to remove Confederate-associated names.
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While crime and safety news is a popular topic on all Patch sites, some stories generated interest across the region. There were two Virginia mass shootings in 10 days: a shooting that killed three University of Virginia football players and a shooting that killed six people at a Chesapeake Walmart. Road safety was also discussed as two high school students were hit and killed on a sidewalk, leading to safety improvements on the roadway.
Another key story on readers’ radar was the Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard defamation trial, which drew fans outside the Fairfax County courthouse. The trail ended with the jury finding Depp proved all three defamation claims and winning compensatory and punitive damages. The jury found Heard provided two defamation claims, and she was awarded compensatory damages.
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In school news, Loudoun County Public Schools took the spotlight as an investigation was completed into the school system’s handling of sexual assaults. Former Superintendent Scott Ziegler, who was fired, was indicted along with the LCPS public information officer. Another top news story was the court battle over the admissions policy at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. An appeal is pending as a federal judge’s ruling favored a group that opposes the admissions policy.
Here are the top stories in Northern Virginia of 2022:
Crime and Safety
Complaints about an employee who fatally shot six people at a Chesapeake Walmart before turning the gun on himself were investigated by the company nearly two years before he opened fire in the store’s break room, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
Two Oakton High School students were killed and another student was injured when a BMW ran off the road and hit them as they were walking on a sidewalk near the intersection of Blake Lane and Five Oaks Road in Fairfax, according to the Fairfax County Police Department.
The Fairfax County Police Department identified two badly decomposed bodies found in a large plastic container near a shopping cart on Dec. 15 in the Alexandria area of Fairfax County as a woman from Washington, D.C., and a woman from California, police officials said at a news conference.
Three football players at the University of Virginia were shot to death on campus in Charlottesville, according to officials.
David Maine, a 24-year-old man, faces several charges in connection with the quadruple homicide that occurred in Woodbridge. Police originally identified Maine as a person of interest, and he was arrested after speaking with investigators.
Former Washington NFL quarterback Dwayne Haskins died after being struck by a dump truck in south Florida.
The death by suicide of a D.C. police officer who fought to protect the U.S. Capitol from rioters on Jan. 6, 2021, has been deemed a line-of-duty death.
A D.C. rapper wanted in connection with a shooting at Tysons Corner Center turned himself into police on Wednesday, according to the Fairfax County Police Department.
More top news headlines for the year included:
Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed a bill at the State Capitol in Richmond that provides a parental opt-out from school mask mandates in school districts, after the legislation cleared both the Virginia Senate and House over the last week.
The administration of Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has set up an email address for residents to report any type of teachings or practices in public schools across the state that they feel are “inherently divisive.”
Gov. Glenn Youngkin visited an Alexandria grocery store to discuss his proposal to eliminate Virginia’s grocery tax.
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration released state education guidelines that would roll back the rights of transgender students, a move by the state’s Republican governor that is expected to be challenged in court.
All incumbents but one were projected winners in Virginia’s 2022 congressional midterms, according to unofficial results.
Virginia residents will have an extra 24 months to obtain their REAL IDs, a document that will be necessary to board domestic flights and enter certain federal buildings, after the Department of Homeland Security on Monday extended the enforcement deadline to May 7, 2025.
Several new laws took effect in Virginia on Friday, July 1, including a requirement that public schools alert parents if books or other materials their children are assigned have sexually explicit content and a return to school principals reporting certain misdemeanors to police departments in their jurisdictions.
After a leaked draft opinion indicated the Supreme Court plans to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision on abortion rights, protesters showed up outside Justice Samuel Alito’s Fairfax County home.
Johnny Depp/Amber Heard Trial
A seven-member jury reached a decision on both actor Johnny Depp’s $50 million defamation lawsuit against ex-wife Amber Heard and her $100 million counterclaim.
Drivers rationed their gasoline, shared snacks and water, and finally escaped a 50-mile section of Interstate 95 in Virginia that was paralyzed for more than 20 hours by a snowstorm. Sen. Tim Kaine, former vice presidential candidate, was one of the many Virginians stuck in the mess as vehicles sat parked on icy traffic lanes.
Rail service is now available to and from Dulles International Airport and Loudoun County as Metro’s Silver Line extension opened. Federal, state and local officials, including U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, joined Metro leaders to celebrate the opening.
After delays, Potomac Yard Metro has a tentative opening date: May 2023.
An extension to bring the I-95 Express Lanes to Fredericksburg is 60 percent complete, the Express Lanes’ operator said in a news release. Officials expect the lanes to Fredericksburg to open by the end of 2023.
Construction on a 2.5-mile extension of the Capital Beltway toll lanes in Northern Virginia will begin in 2022 after a groundbreaking.
The I-66 Express Lanes outside the Capital Beltway are open as Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin and other officials celebrated Tuesday with a ribbon cutting. It was the second time in two weeks a major transportation project opened in Northern Virginia, as Metro’s Silver Line extension opened on Nov. 15.
The 15-year-old boy convicted of two sexual assaults at Loudoun County high schools in 2021 received his sentence.
Students at schools around Northern Virginia and across the state walked out of classrooms on Tuesday to protest Virginia’s new proposed guidelines that restrict the rights of transgender students.
Students from 45 high schools across Virginia staged walkouts on Monday as part of a Statewide Student Day of Action for Abortion Access organized by Generation Ratify Virginia, a youth-led organization advocating for abortion rights.
Loudoun County Public Schools decided to remove the book “Gender Queer: A Memoir” from its high school library shelves. The book has come under attack across the country as parents and groups amplify calls to remove “offensive” materials from libraries.
Applications will open Monday for the next freshman class at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, a top-rated governor’s school serving Northern Virginia. The new admissions policy that has drawn a mix of support and opposition will continue for this class as a court battle plays out.
Business and Development
After two consecutive years as the top state for business, Virginia slipped to third place in business and financial news network CNBC’s 2022 America’s Top States for Business rankings.
Boeing is moving its corporate headquarters to Arlington from Chicago, with plans to develop a research and technology hub in Northern Virginia, the company announced.
Four more locally owned businesses signed leases to fill retail space in the middle of Amazon’s HQ2 campuses in National Landing.
The Arlington County Board approved a 16-story glass-walled apartment tower with ground-floor retail on the current site of the Macy’s department store in Ballston.
Shortages of items weren’t just a temporary aftershock of a storm in Northern Virginia. As supply chain issues and labor shortages linger, shoppers have run into trouble finding certain items at some stores.
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay joined Franconia District Supervisor Rodney Lusk for a groundbreaking ceremony celebrating the official start to construction of the Lego Discovery Center at Springfield Town Center.
After a rideshare driver’s car drove into Ireland’s Four Courts on Friday, causing the business to catch fire, the community hopes to see the popular pub rebuild.
Washington Football Team officials revealed that the team would be renamed the Washington Commanders.
Several NFL owners are souring on Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder, according to a recent report from the Washington Post. Some owners told reporters that they may consider a vote to remove Snyder from the league or encourage him to voluntarily sell the team.
Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, a cold-like illness that can cause breathing difficulties in young children, is having an increased impact in Virginia and across the country. Infectious disease experts are monitoring trends of RSV along with COVID-19 and the flu as winter approaches.
The omicron coronavirus surge peaked in Virginia in early 2022, according to health experts, offering a glimmer of hope for Americans as the COVID-19 pandemic approached the two-year mark.
A Northern Virginia woman who recently traveled to Africa has tested positive for monkeypox, the first case of monkeypox reported in Virginia, the Virginia Department of Health announced.
Eligible Virginia residents can now get COVID-19 booster vaccine doses targeting subvariants of the omicron variant, according to the Virginia Department of Health.
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