Charles County police are investigating the possibility that the Fredericksburg man shot and killed by Fairfax County police Wednesday night was a hired gunman.
The man, William Gates, 39, was killed by Fairfax police at the Franconia Moose Lodge hours after he allegedly shot and killed a 26-year-old man at a restaurant in the aging Potomac River resort town of Colonial Beach, Va.
Chalres County Sheriff David Fuller, whose department has jurisdiction in the Colonial Beach case because the restaurant is built on a pier jutting into the Maryland portion of the Potomac River; said his investigators are "looking into all angles at this pint, including the contract possibility."
The idea that Gates' shooting of Lawrence Bryant was a contract killing originated with Gates' wife of two weeks, Margaret West, a bartender at the Moose Lodge.
Moments before Gates was shot, West said, Gates told her: "I've done a contract job and I got to get to New York to get paid for it."
Then, after calling his mother and kissing West goodbye, Gates walked out of the lodge and to his car, which was surrounded by three Fairfax County police officers. Police said Gates reached for a .44 magnum pistol concealed under his belt when he saw the uniformed police officers.
The officers yelled, "Police! freeze!" police said, but Gates continued to reach for the gun and the officers opened fire hitting Gates several times with blasts from two shotguns and a .38-caliber police revolver.
Residents and police in Colonial Beach said they believe it is unlikely that Gates' alleged shooting of Bryant fulfilled a murder-for-hire contract. Gates was considered a small-time nuisance by Colonial Beach police. He lived there off and on during the last several years.
In 1979, said Police Chief John Anderson, Gates was found guilty of being a haitual driving offender and served one year in the Virginia State Penitentiary.
Bryant, a former city trash collector who lately had been mowing lawns around town, had minor scrapes with the law as well. Town attorney George Mason III said Bryant had been prosecuted several times on drunk and disorderly charges, but was not known to be involved in more serious offenses.
However, police familiar with the case said drugs -- either drug sales or drug use -- may have been involved.
But Eddy Lee, 28, a former Colonial Beach police officer, said "It couldn't have been over drugs. There just aren't that many to be had here. And if it was over a woman, none of Bryant's friends knew anything about it." a
Police and rsidents here know little about Gates. His wife, West, said Gates "didn't have a job yet always had money." West also said however, that she didn't know Gates well, having met him only a week before they were married.
"From what I knew about Gates," Lee said, "he always had an angle. Maybe his lat words were bull too."