Fairfax County police said yesterday that they shot the driver of a car carrying suspected shoplifters from a Tysons Corner mall Thursday when the car suddenly lunged toward an officer before speeding away and leading police on a 15-mile chase.
The fleeing car crashed in Silver Spring, and Montgomery County police caught three of the four occupants. Fairfax police later charged Philip L. Moore, 21, the driver, with attempted malicious wounding. Moore, of Jessup, was being treated for injuries not thought to be life-threatening yesterday at Washington Hospital Center. Law enforcement sources said he was shot several times.
Shemika D. Mason, 19, of Baltimore and Tameka S. Bryant of Columbia were charged with grand larceny and were being held on fugitive warrants in Montgomery, police said.
The fourth suspect, a woman, fled on foot -- barefoot, police believe -- from the scene of the Silver Spring crash, escaping officers who gave chase. She remained at large last evening.
The incident began about 6:45 p.m. inside Tysons Corner Center, when two plainclothes officers with the Fairfax police department's "Christmas anti-theft" unit determined that the four people had shoplifted and began trailing them, police said.
They would not say what the group was suspected of stealing.
The plainclothes officers followed as the four left the Nordstrom department store, got into a silver Honda Civic and left mall property, sources familiar with the investigation said. Anti-shoplifting officers routinely follow suspects outside, rather than stopping them immediately, to see whether more merchandise is in their cars and to take license plate information.
The officers called for uniformed backup to assist in a traffic stop, Fairfax police spokeswoman Mary Ann Jennings said. At least one officer patrolling nearby in a marked police car joined them, and the officers stopped the Honda at Route 7 and Gallows Road, police said.
Suddenly, police said, the Honda accelerated toward a sidewalk, nearly striking an officer standing there. In response, two officers fired several rounds toward the car, Jennings said.
"We effected a traffic stop, the driver . . . aimed his vehicle towards one of our officers, and that is an element of fearing for your life," Jennings said.
Moore was struck by several bullets, police sources said. But the Honda continued, hopping up a curb and onto a sidewalk before racing through a bank parking lot.
One officer's arm was cut when he tried to stop the car by breaking its window, Jennings said. Police initially reported that a second officer was hurt; yesterday, Jennings said police believe that officer jumped out of the way of the oncoming car and was uninjured.
The Honda escaped onto Route 7 and continued onto the inner loop of the Capital Beltway, police said. Fairfax police chased the car as it made its way through rush-hour congestion before exiting onto southbound Colesville Road (Route 29).
There, Montgomery police officers joined the pursuit, trailing the Honda until it crashed into three other cars at Colesville Road and Greyrock Drive, Montgomery police spokeswoman Sonia Pruitt said. No one was injured in the crash, she said.
Moore, Mason and Bryant were captured near the Honda, authorities said. The fourth suspect -- who police said was wearing a light green top, blue jeans and no shoes -- fled down a street along Sligo Creek Park.
Each holiday season, Fairfax police deploy plainclothes officers to stem shoplifting at Tysons Corner Center and other county shopping centers. Last year, the "Christmas anti-theft" unit arrested 87 people and recovered more than $67,000 in stolen merchandise and cash, police said.
Eric Kulczycky, a Tysons Corner Center spokesman, declined to comment on the incident yesterday.
Staff writers Tom Jackman and Ernesto Londono contributed to this report.