Gunman shot dead by Fairfax police in downtown Springfield

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Fairfax County police officers fatally shot a 37-year-old Fairfax County man in a shopping mall parking lot on Thursday after officials said he would not drop a weapon despite repeated requests from police.

The man was armed with a semi-automatic handgun while locked in a sedan parked in the downtown Springfield parking lot, Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis said during of a press conference. Investigators recovered the gun, police said, but it was unclear whether the man fired or pointed his gun at police.

The department’s fugitive warrant squad had been tracking the man since Sunday, after a warrant was issued for his arrest. Officials said the man stole a handgun from a family member, fired it inside a county home where he lived with family members, then fled .

Police declined to identify the man, saying his family members had not been informed of his death.

Police on Thursday received reports that the man was in downtown Springfield and passed on a description of him and the vehicle he was driving, Fairfax County Police Deputy Chief Brian Reilly. Three uniformed officers spotted the man standing in front of his parked car in the 6600 block of the Springfield Mall and used an unmarked police cruiser to stop the vehicle from fleeing the mall parking lot, authorities said.

The man retreated to his vehicle, a Volvo, and officers stood around her, shouting orders for him to show his hands, Reilly said, describing body-worn camera footage he had viewed.

Several seconds into the encounter, one of the officers shouted to the others that the man had a gun, Reilly said.

Davis said officers told “our shooter at least 20 times to drop his gun.”

“He didn’t,” Davis said. “I don’t know why he didn’t.”

Two of the officers fired, wounding the man, police said. The man was found alone inside the vehicle and no one else was injured. Reilly said he did not see the man shoot on body camera footage, but police are still investigating the incident.

A short time later, police officers broke a window to enter locked the car and gave the man first aid, Reilly said. He was taken to hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

Davis showed a photocopy of a handgun that police say was found inside the vehicle. Investigators, including officers from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, were tracing the weapon to see if it was the weapon used in Sunday’s incident.

“We are still trying to identify additional witnesses,” Davis said. “One of the three officers at the scene did not discharge his firearm, so he is a witness.”

Police had cordoned off much of the mall parking lot outside Target, near the Nordstrom Rack entrances. At around 6:30 p.m., as officers worked in the parking lot, shoppers continued to enter and exit the mall. Police said the mall was open and there was “no apparent threat to the community”.

Davis said the department intends to release body camera footage within 30 days.

The incident is being investigated by police internal affairs and major crimes investigators, as well as the Commonwealth Prosecutor’s Office. Officials said the officers involved are being questioned and body camera footage being reviewed more carefully to determine what happened. But Davis, relying on body camera footage he had viewed, said he felt they had done the right thing.

“I’m very comfortable that these officers acted appropriately, they acted courageously in a very dangerous situation,” Davis said.

This developing story has been updated.


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