Trooper Details How Man Aimed Gun at Him
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
A Virginia state trooper yesterday described a chaotic run-in with a man who he said repeatedly pointed a shotgun at him near Springfield Mall in February, leading to a shootout in which the man was seriously wounded.
Jeffrey S. Koger was charged with attempted capital murder of the trooper, and yesterday a Fairfax County judge found probable cause to send the case to a grand jury.
Koger is the former chief financial officer of Koger Management Group, which handled business for hundreds of Northern Virginia condominium and homeowners associations. State regulators identified him in a complaint as the "likely primary culprit" in an embezzlement scheme involving associations' money. An accountant in the case said $2.2 million was missing.
Police are also investigating whether Koger was involved in three other shootings that started shortly before 3 a.m. Feb. 2, including one of a cabdriver in Alexandria. Two other men were shot outside a police station in the Franconia area of Fairfax. Koger has not been charged in those Fairfax shootings, and Alexandria officials did not return calls seeking information on the status of their investigation into the shooting.
Trooper Jonathan Groner testified yesterday that he saw a sport-utility vehicle stopped, with its hazard lights on, in the Springfield area. The SUV's occupants told him that there was a man nearby with a gun, Groner said. "They said he was wearing a sweat shirt or a hoodie," Groner said.
Groner sped toward the area where the gunman was said to be, turned at an intersection and saw a man he identified in the courtroom yesterday as Koger, standing and pointing a gun at him.
"I immediately ducked down and put the vehicle in reverse. I was really not in a great position to get out of my vehicle at that point," Groner said.
He pulled away, made a U-turn and headed toward the suspect. He was joined by a Metro police car. Groner said Koger was trying to speed away in his vehicle but crashed into a light-control box. Groner and two or three Metro police officers jumped out and took cover behind their vehicles. "I didn't want to be in a position to be shot," Groner said.
Koger again pointed his gun in Groner's direction, the trooper testified.
"I remember saying, 'Drop the gun! Drop the gun!' over and over again," Groner said.
Koger eventually fired his shotgun, though it was not clear precisely where he was aiming, Groner testified.
Groner and other officers fired at Koger, and one of the other officers hit him, Groner testified.
Koger's attorney, Peter D. Greenspun, asked the trooper what comments Koger had made during the incident, even if they were not "lucid."
According to Groner, Koger said: "Help me -- they are coming to get me" but did not explain what that meant.
Koger sat quietly in court yesterday wearing a green jumpsuit. He had grown a goatee and lost a few pounds while jailed since the incident, Groner said.
Assistant Fairfax Commonwealth's Attorney Casey Lingan asked Groner a series of questions trying to establish that Koger had to have known Groner was a police officer. Groner was in uniform, his car's strobe lights were flashing and the siren was blaring.
Greenspun argued that there was no evidence that his client acknowledged he was in the middle of a standoff with police.