District man charged with murder in Arlington jewelry store robbery killing

Arlington police - James Sylvester Caroline

Arlington County police charged James Sylvester Caroline with murder Friday in the killing of a 52-year-old Herndon man who was found dead inside his jewelry store last week.

Tommy Wong was killed during a robbery at Capital Jewelers on the 3200 block of Columbia Pike on July 27. County police arrested Caroline, 52, on Wednesday, and the announcement of formal charges was expected.

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Officer Dustin Sternbeck, an Arlington County police spokesman, declined to give more details about the killing and the charges against Caroline on Friday afternoon, so as “to not compromise the process.” The office of Arlington County Commonwealth’s Attorney Theophani Stamos did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Police have yet to publicly discuss details of how Wong was killed. They had previously released photographs of a man they say entered the store wearing a neon green traffic safety vest, saying the man was inside the store for less than 20 minutes and took jewelry while he was there.

Wong was found dead inside the locked store shortly before midnight on July 27. Family members contacted police because he had not returned home.

Relatives remembered Wong this week as a dedicated family man who was kind and generous to his friends.

In Virginia, a slaying that occurs during a robbery can be charged as a capital offense and could result in the death penalty.

Online court records in the District, Maryland and Virginia indicate that Caroline has a record of arrests for crimes including larceny, credit card fraud and failing to appear in court. A week before Wong was killed, Caroline was charged in Arlington with failing to obey a traffic signal.

Caroline is being held without bond on the murder charge, police said.

Wong’s murder and an apparent murder-suicide that occurred near Arlington’s Fairlington neighborhood three days earlier were the county’s first homicides since March 2010.

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