Va. Couple Apparently Targeted in Midnight Machete Attack

By Tom Jackman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 10, 2009

It was shortly after midnight, and the Fairfax County couple were fast asleep in their quiet Oak Hill neighborhood. That's when three shadowy figures suddenly began pummeling them -- and one was wielding a machete.

The beating became bloody. Then the silent home invaders left. That's when the homeowner screaming for help out the window of his second-floor master bedroom sparked calls to 911, and then an intense police investigation early Wednesday that resulted in the arrests of two men and the ongoing search for a third, Fairfax police said Friday.

Police think that the couple's 23-year-old daughter complained to some friends after fighting with her parents. But they do not think she knew that her friends would burst into the brick colonial home on Cinnamon Oaks Court near West Ox Road and attack her parents.

The daughter apparently returned home after her parents had been rushed to Inova Fairfax Hospital, where they remained hospitalized. She was questioned but not arrested.

The victims "sustained serious injuries . . . head and upper-body trauma," although they were not life-threatening, said Fairfax police spokeswoman Mary Ann Jennings.

Investigators think that all three attackers were armed but that one wielded a machete and the others used blunt instruments, possibly baseball bats. Because the victims weren't fatally wounded by the machete, investigators surmised that the attackers did not intend to kill them. Police do not think the invasion was gang-related.

Three Herndon men were charged with malicious wounding in the attack. Rolando Miranda-Perez, 18, of the 1000 block of Saber Lane, and Noe Eli Alvarado-Chopin, 22, of the 13300 block of Parcher Avenue, were arrested Thursday and are being held in the Fairfax jail without bond.

A third suspect, Raul Antonio Aleman Argueta, 20, of the 13300 block of Parcher Avenue, was at large.

The incident occurred about 12:45 a.m. Wednesday, police said. A neighbor arriving home shortly after the attack said she saw the husband at his bedroom window screaming for help, yelling: "We're hurting. I don't know how they got in."

His voice contained "absolute panic," said the neighbor, who asked that her name be withheld for fear of retaliation from the attackers. "It was shocking."

Fairfax police arrived in force soon after, the neighbor said. Helicopters, search dogs and dozens of officers swarmed into Cinnamon Oaks Court and stayed for hours.

Most of the residents on the neatly manicured, 16-year-old cul-de-sac are original owners, real estate records show. The residents know one another and have experienced little crime, the victims' neighbor said.

"They're just really sweet people, very undeserving of this act," she said. "They're very devout with their religion, very good-natured, low-key."

Police initially announced the incident Wednesday with a news release, calling it "a burglary and assault" and saying that the victims "were beaten and cut." Jennings said that because the attack was not a random invasion but an apparently targeted assault, details were not publicized because "no public safety issue was involved" and because police wanted to quickly capture the suspects.

Gang-related machete attacks in Northern Virginia, involving gang members assaulting those from rival gangs, have been characterized by hacking off victims' fingers. The violence intensified awareness of gangs in the affluent region. Machete attacks in 2004 and 2005 also led to more federal funding, which Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.) used to create a regional anti-gang task force. Officials said gang-related crime has dropped more than 15 percent in Fairfax since 2005.

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