Fairfax Killer Had Fled Psychiatric Center
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
The teenager who killed a Fairfax County detective in an ambush at a police station Monday had broken out of a Rockville psychiatric center three weeks earlier, then carjacked an SUV to return home to Virginia, court records show.
On April 18, the day he checked himself into the mental health facility, Michael W. Kennedy escaped from the center, then turned himself in that evening at the Sully District police station in western Fairfax -- the same station where the shootings would occur Monday.
On Monday, Kennedy, 18, was carrying an AK-47-style assault rifle, a high-powered hunting rifle, five handguns and extra clips of ammunition as he entered the private police parking lot at the station. He squeezed off 70 rounds before the fierce gun battle with officers ended.
Detective Vicky O. Armel, 40, who was emerging from the police station as the shooting began, tried to return fire and was fatally wounded by several rounds, police said yesterday.
An officer sitting in his car, Michael E. Garbarino, 53, was hit five times, police said. He spent more than six hours in surgery Monday night and remained in critical condition yesterday at Inova Fairfax Hospital, police said. A third officer was slightly wounded by debris kicked up by the gunfire.
Three more officers returned fire in the gun battle. Kennedy was wounded but continued to shoot at police and finally was shot dead by officers, authorities said.
"A number of police officers stood up, faced automatic rifle fire and did their jobs," said Fairfax Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. "The heroism involved was enormous."
The shootings shocked the county, which had never lost an officer in a line-of-duty shooting. Residents from all over the region made a pilgrimage to the Sully District station to pay their respects. Strangers were collecting money and offering help to the victims' families and the police department.
Officers also were coping with the loss of a well-known colleague who served on both the police and sheriff's forces.
"You go through every emotion there is," said Officer Marshall Thielen, head of the Fairfax police union. "It kind of goes from disbelief, to anger at the individual who did it, then grief. I think most of us will be in that stage until after the funeral."
As the county mourned Armel, a wife and mother of two, Kennedy's history came into clearer focus.
He graduated from Westfield High School in the Centreville-Chantilly area last year and was a part-time student at the Woodbridge campus of Northern Virginia Community College, said Tricia Holser, a school spokeswoman. He was enrolled in a class on campus and also was taking a course online, but Holser said she had no further details about him.