It could have been something right out of the television show "Medical Center": A man carrying a .357 magnum walked into a medical office building in Burke, took a doctor and nurse hostage and demanded drugs. In the end no one was hurt but, unlike the television show, the ordeal wasn't over when the gunman was arrested.
The nurse held hostage experienced a terrible emotional shock, according to Joyce Williams, director of Fairfax County's new Victim/Witness Assistance Program.
"She said she needed someone to talk to, she needed to feel safe, she needed to feel everything was okay," said Williams. "As the case progressed, she felt a need to feel informed about the whole adjudicatory process . . . what to expect in court."
Had the program, which was authorized in 1985 by the County Board of Supervisors, been in place at the time of last year's incident, Williams said, the nurse's needs could have been met. Now the program, to be administered by the Fairfax County Police Department, is preparing to initiate services to future victims and witnesses of serious offenses.
"After initially reporting a crime, many victims don't know where to turn for answers to questions or with whom to speak regarding their experiences," said Col. John E. Granfield, chief of police. "We are committed to helping victims and witnesses through what, for many, may be an ordeal."
The program will provide a wide range of services, including court date notification, general information about the court process, companionship in court, assistance in filing for state crime victim's compensation and referral to social service agencies.
Those in need of assistance may call the Criminal Investigations Bureau at 385-1470.