Fairfax authorities: Man shot by police had ‘what appeared to be weapon’

A 37-year-old man shot by Fairfax County police displayed “what appeared to be a weapon in a threatening manner” before he was fired upon, authorities said Wednesday.

The man, who police said suffered life-threatening injuries, remains at a local hospital following the incident, which occurred on Thurlton Drive in the Alexandria area shortly before 4 p.m. Tuesday, authorities said.

Fairfax County police declined to elaborate on what the man was holding or provide fresh details about the case Wednesday. They would not say how many officers were involved, how many shots were fired or provide a detailed account of how the shooting unfolded.

Police had said previously they were called to a Thurlton Drive home for a report of a suicidal person. They said officers encountered the man and that he was shot by police.

Alec Goetz, 17, who lives near the home, said he witnessed much of the incident from his family’s living room window. He said he saw a man in the driveway of the home holding something in his hand that was glinting in the sun, when two Fairfax County officers arrived in a cruiser.

The officers immediately took cover behind the cruiser, Goetz said. He said he believes the man fired two shots. One of the officers, who was carrying a rifle, then fired about three shots, Goetz said.

There was a pause in the shooting, during which Goetz said the officers were shouting at the man, although he couldn’t make out what they were saying. The officer who fired the initial shots then fired about three more times, Goetz said.

Goetz said he ducked away from the window, but returned about a minute later after things had gone quiet. He said he saw the officer with the rifle at the back of the cruiser and a second officer looking through the trunk. The man was no longer in view.

Goetz said the officer with the rifle made his way to the front of the cruiser and then went toward the front of the red brick townhouse, where Goetz had initially seen the man in the driveway. Goetz then lost sight of the officers. He said he later saw the man being wheeled to an ambulance on a gurney.

Police would not comment on Goetz’s account.

On Wednesday, two bullet holes could be seen in the front door of the home. The owner, Ruth Massie, was washing blood off the doorstep with a garden hose. Massie said the man who was shot is her friend, and that she was not home at the time. She declined to identify the man or discuss the shooting.

Fairfax County police said they are continuing to probe the incident. They said three officers had been put on routine administrative leave, pending the outcome of the criminal and internal affairs investigations.

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