Killing Was Avoidable, Suspect's Family Says

Brenda Agurs, right, and Dorothy Agurs do not believe that police needed to resort to lethal force in trying to apprehend their brother, Edward Agurs Jr.
Brenda Agurs, right, and Dorothy Agurs do not believe that police needed to resort to lethal force in trying to apprehend their brother, Edward Agurs Jr. (Photos By Linda Davidson -- The Washington Post)

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By Tom Jackman and Theresa Vargas
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, December 16, 2006

Relatives of a bank robbery suspect shot and killed this week by a Fairfax County police officer said yesterday that police knew he did not have a gun and that he should have been captured without being killed.

Edward R. Agurs Jr., 39, was fatally wounded by five shots as he crouched inside an apartment building crawl space on Fordson Road in the Hybla Valley area Wednesday morning. Police said he had robbed a nearby bank minutes earlier, fled from an officer who tried to question him and resisted numerous demands to show his hands and surrender.

Police said Agurs had the money from the robbery and two box-cutters in his backpack but no gun.

"They murdered him," said his sister, Dorothy Agurs, 40. "Even if he did what he did, he did not deserve to die."

Agurs's family members spoke for the first time publicly yesterday after meeting with Fairfax homicide detectives Thursday afternoon and being briefed on the final moments of their brother's life.

They said that police told them a police dog found Agurs hiding beneath the stairwell of a building in the 7400 block of Fordson Road. The dog bit Agurs, who then twisted the dog's leg. The dog's handler sprayed Agurs with pepper spray, and when Agurs still refused commands to surrender, another officer shot him twice, hitting him in the side of the face and the upper arm.

That officer has been identified by numerous sources as Maj. Michael LoMonaco, 50, a 27-year veteran with extensive tactical experience.

The family was told that Agurs did not surrender after being shot twice and that the officer then fired three more times, striking Agurs twice in the upper body and once in the arm.

"After they shot him in the face and sprayed him with pepper spray," Dorothy Agurs said, "somebody could've grabbed him and pulled him out of there."

Police said Thursday that Edward Agurs had placed his hands inside the backpack and would not show them when ordered to. His sisters also said they were told that their brother repeatedly told the officers, "You're going to have to kill me before you take me back to jail." Agurs had recently been released on bond from a robbery charge in Prince William County, and he had an extensive criminal record.

"They knew he didn't have a weapon," Dorothy Agurs said. "If he had any weapon at all, he would've shot the dog and that officer. He had plenty of time to do that."

Fairfax police spokeswoman Mary Ann Jennings responded: "There would have been no way for us to know that. Only he knew that."

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