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Fairfax Police Say Shooting Was Accident

"When you draw the weapon, you always try to assess what the potential threat is going to be," Perez said. He said the officers in the tactical squad are "highly trained officers. Do unintentional shootings occur? Absolutely. We're humans, and these kind of things do occur."

Perez said he did not know what type of handgun Culosi was shot with.

After several years without any shootings, officers shot and wounded several people last year, including one of their own officers in an accidental shooting. A robbery suspect was shot this month on Route 1. In the nearly 39 years that Robert F. Horan Jr. has been the chief prosecutor in Fairfax, no officer has been charged with improperly shooting someone.

Rohrer said in his statement that the tactical squad routinely performs arrests and provides support for detectives executing search warrants. The chief said in his statement that "we will fully review, as always, our policies, practices and this operation in detail."

Culosi's family said that "police action that results in the death of an unarmed, nonthreatening person calls for a full and open investigation. We hope proper steps are taken by county police to ensure other families won't have to endure similar pain."

Culosi was a lifelong Pittsburgh Steelers fan, longtime friend Steve Lunceford said. Culosi excelled at soccer, playing on travel teams as a youth and for the O'Connell varsity. He was not married and had no children.

"He was gregarious, outgoing, loved to sing off-key at weddings," Lunceford said. "For this to happen, it's surreal. The police need to account for and be held accountable for their actions."

Deon Chapman said he became a casual friend of Culosi's after meeting him at a pool tournament at a Fairfax bar about 10 years ago. "He was a laid-back guy, funny guy. . . . I've never known him to even carry a pocketknife. This is a college boy, clean-cut." He also said he had no idea that Culosi might have been a bookie.

In an affidavit for the search warrant, Detective David J. Baucom, who often investigates sports gambling in Fairfax, said he met Culosi at a bar in October and started making NFL bets with him by cell phone. Baucom said he placed more than $28,000 in bets on games through last Sunday and met Culosi about every two weeks to pay his debts or collect his winnings, either at a restaurant or Culosi's home. Through Jan. 16, Baucom had lost more than $5,500 to Culosi, his affidavit stated.

Lt. Steve Thompson, Baucom's supervisor in the police organized crime division, said in a recent interview that there is no shortage of sports bookies in Fairfax and that police investigate only those who meet certain criteria. He said that Fairfax typically goes after only those bookies with many customers who take in $100,000 in bets per week and that larger bookies will take in $300,000 to $400,000 on a busy football weekend.

Last month, another investigation headed by Baucom resulted in the arrest of a man suspected of being a bookie who lives in Washington but operated in Fairfax. When police searched his safe deposit boxes, they seized nearly $350,000 in cash, court records show. Charges against that man are pending.

After shooting Culosi, police searched his townhouse. The results of that search were not available yesterday.

Perez said Culosi had not displayed a weapon or shown any violent tendencies while he was being investigated by Baucom. But Perez said police had to be prepared for any possibility, because "the unexpected can occur."

Staff writers Allan Lengel and Carol Morello contributed to this report.


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