Slain Suspect Had Reached Into Backpack, Police Say

By Tom Jackman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 15, 2006

Fairfax County police said yesterday that an officer shot and killed a bank robbery suspect Wednesday after the man shoved and fled from a police officer, fought off a police dog, resisted pepper spray and then reached into a backpack after repeatedly refusing orders to surrender.

The backpack carried by Edward R. Agurs Jr., 39, of Woodbridge contained money from the robbery committed minutes earlier at a Wachovia Bank branch on Richmond Highway in Fairfax, police said. It also contained two box cutters, but no gun.

Police have not identified the officer, but law enforcement sources said Agurs was shot five times by Maj. Michael LoMonaco, a high-ranking tactical officer who just happened to be in the Hybla Valley neighborhood accompanying motorcycle officers collecting toys for children on Santa's Ride. LoMonaco has been placed on routine administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of internal and criminal investigations.

Fairfax police said they had given Agurs every opportunity to surrender before shots were fired. "We would much rather this have ended on the street, when the first officer tried to handcuff him," police spokeswoman Mary Ann Jennings said. "But when he's got his hand in a knapsack and about to pull the hand out, and we don't know what's in that hand, it's the toughest decision a trained officer has to make.

"The officer didn't know he didn't have a gun," Jennings said. "They were in a position to have to make a split-second decision. They felt their lives were being threatened, and they used force. Deadly force."

Agurs's family could not be located for comment last night.

Police believe that Agurs, of the 1400 block of Bayside Avenue, had robbed two other banks along Richmond Highway (Route 1) recently. As with Wednesday's holdup, at 7706 Richmond Hwy., a man who showed a note was given cash Dec. 1 at a Bank of America branch at 6802 Richmond Hwy. Five days later, a Wachovia branch at 6300 Richmond Hwy. was similarly robbed.

A surveillance photo in the Dec. 1 robbery shows a man passing a note to a teller while several customers wait behind him. A second photo shows the robber calmly walking away from the bank.

According to Prince William police sources, Agurs was charged with robbing a cabdriver and was released from jail Nov. 15 after posting $10,000 bond. Police also said Agurs previously served prison time for an armed robbery in Alexandria.

Police said that after the bank robbery occurred about 9:45 a.m. Wednesday, a description of the suspect was broadcast, and an officer spotted Agurs in the 7500 block of Richmond Highway. The officer tried to stop Agurs, but Agurs pushed him away and ran through an auto dealer's parking lot, police said. Agurs then jumped onto a sport-utility vehicle, leapt over a brick wall topped by barbed wire and fled toward a nearby apartment building.

Agurs ran into a three-story building with basement-level apartments, at 7417 Fordson Rd. Agurs apparently darted down the steps and crawled through a hole into a dark space beneath the first-floor landing.

A K-9 officer also happened to be in the area and responded, police said. The dog tracked Agurs to the crawl space. Police said LoMonaco, a veteran of numerous police tactical operations, and the officer ordered the man to come out, threatening to send in the dog. Agurs stayed put.

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