ATF Investigates Parents of Teen in Shooting

By Tom Jackman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Federal law enforcement authorities are investigating whether the parents of Michael W. Kennedy, the Centreville teenager who shot and killed two Fairfax County police officers this month, committed any firearms violations before the shooting rampage outside the Sully District police station.

Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives obtained a search warrant Friday for the townhouse where Kennedy, 18, lived with his parents, Brian and Margaret Kennedy. Federal agents and Fairfax homicide detectives entered the home in the 6200 block of Prince Way that evening and seized about a half-dozen guns, said sources close to the investigation who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Authorities took nine guns during an earlier search in the hours after the shootings, which claimed the lives of Detective Vicky O. Armel and Officer Michael E. Garbarino.

ATF spokesman Mike Campbell confirmed the search yesterday but said the federal warrant was sealed. He declined to comment further. Spokesmen for the U.S. attorney's office in Alexandria and the Fairfax police also declined to comment yesterday.

Although Fairfax Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. has said he does not think the Kennedys were criminally liable for the actions of their son, sources familiar with the investigation who spoke on condition of anonymity said federal firearms laws might provide prosecution options that Virginia law does not.

Legal experts said federal investigators would have had to show probable cause that a crime had been committed before a federal magistrate would issue a search warrant. Brian and Margaret Kennedy have not been charged.

The Kennedys' attorney, Richard F. MacDowell Jr., said that the family had cooperated with the search after being told Friday that the search would be limited to a locked gun case in the house. But after attorneys from MacDowell's firm opened the house, investigators "wouldn't let us have access to the house during the search, nor would they provide us with what underlies the search warrant," the affidavit explaining the need for the search, MacDowell said.

"So now we can't comment on what gave rise to the search warrant, or what this investigation is all about," MacDowell said.

The Kennedys have remained in seclusion since their son, apparently suffering from mental problems, armed himself with two rifles and five handguns the afternoon of May 8. Police said Kennedy carjacked a minivan from his Centreville neighborhood, then drove to the Sully District police station and opened fire on Garbarino's unmarked cruiser, hitting the unarmed off-duty officer five times.

Armel emerged from the station, exchanged shots with Kennedy and was fatally wounded, police said. Three other officers then engaged in a gun battle with Kennedy in the parking lot behind the police station and killed him. Garbarino died about eight days later.

Police searched the Kennedy home later that night with a county search warrant. They seized nine guns -- some found standing against walls -- but the search warrant inventory indicates that a locked gun safe was left behind. Police also found "green leafy material," law enforcement code for suspected marijuana, in two places in the home, the inventory states.

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