Friday, May 28, 2010

Trouble at the Pool Hall

NOVA was home to dozens of pool halls serving as hubs for a lot of ilicit activities. One pool hall in Alexandria was the home to ongoing problems with drugs and murders. The building at 1101 Queen St. in Alexandria has an interesting history. It was built in 1921 and called the Lincoln Theater and was located in the heart of an African-American neighborhood called Uptown. The original building was replaced in 1939 and it later became the Capitol Theater. In the 1960s the theater continued to operate with "a pool hall and amusement arcade".

The pool hall was nothing but trouble. In 1961 police arrived to find a brawl outside the pool hall and tried to break it up. As a cop tried to take Douglas Beck's blackjack away, he got in one more smack on his victim. Beck's buddies James Allen and Nicholas Lafragiola were hauled in by police too. In 1969 Russell Robinson, who was a bouncer at the pool hall, was shot three times in the hallway of the pool room. Patrons told police that they heard gunfire and Robinson emerged clutching his throat. Charles Davis of 3627 S. Four Mile Run Dr. in Arlington claimed he shot Robinson in self defense because Robinson was trying to rob him. Davis was convicted to five years in prison.

In 1970 the Alexandria Vice Squad cracked down on the pool hall and arrested a lot of folks on drug charges and found it was a center of heroin dealing. It was likely that Guy Black's mini drug empire had its tentacles in the pool hall. He was the kingpin of the heroin market in NOVA for a few years. In 1975 Black was busted and cops found he had a $2.5 million operation that he was running while living in dumpy motels across Arlington. The heart of his drug operation was the Green Valley section of South Arlington, which is a historically black area of the county. Black had his junkies dealing out of teen centers, pool halls, motels, and shopping centers across NOVa.

An Alexandria Gazette article from 1970 notes the pool hall is the site of "frequent arrests for disorderly conduct, and several fights, and shootings have occured at the spot in recent months". In addition to heroin, the pool hall was the center of numbers betting in Alexandria.

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