Man shot in confrontation with Fairfax, Va., police in his home

By Tom Jackman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Fairfax County officer shot a Herndon area man inside his home early Friday after he brandished a pistol at police, and his wounds were life-threatening, authorities said.

The 25-year-old man was thought by neighbors to be mentally ill, and police said they had obtained an emergency custody order for him, which is typically used for mentally ill people in need of treatment.

The man's name was not released, and police said they could not discuss his mental status.

A police spokeswoman said officers entered the house because they knew there was a weapon inside and were concerned for the man's safety.

One officer shot the man "several" times in the upper body when he failed to comply with the officers' instructions and brandished the gun, Officer Shelley Broderick said. She described the man as "distraught" but declined to elaborate.

The incident began about 11:30 p.m. Thursday in the 2500 block of Fallon Drive, a short street of brick colonial homes just west of Fairfax County Parkway. Police said that they were called to a domestic dispute and that a man was threatening to harm family members.

The family members, said to be the man's mother and sister, left the house, leaving the man alone inside. Tactical officers and trained negotiators were summoned, and negotiators spoke with the man for several hours, police said.

But the negotiators were unable to get the man to come out of the house, Officer Tawny Wright said. Meanwhile, police went to a Fairfax magistrate and obtained an emergency custody order. Police normally seek such orders for people who have not broken the law but are in need of immediate psychiatric help.

At 3 a.m., concerned about the weapon inside the house, "we went into the house to take the man into custody and into our care," Wright said.

But the man confronted the officers and was shot, police said. Paramedics who were outside went to the man's immediate aid, and he was flown to Inova Fairfax Hospital, authorities said.

If the man is mentally ill, he would be the second such person shot by Fairfax officers recently.

On Nov. 13, David A. Masters, 52, of Fredericksburg was fatally shot as he rolled away from officers during a traffic stop on Route 1. The officers did not know he had bipolar disorder, and the officer who shot Masters thought he had run over another officer and was reaching for a gun, authorities said. Masters's vehicle had not struck the other officer, and Masters was unarmed.

Police presumably were advised by the Herndon man's family of his mental status. After negotiators spoke with him at some length, "there was a concern for the safety of the man," Wright said.

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