Linda Kay Washington said the man walked up to the front of the Fort Belvoir homeless shelter Wednesday evening and began punching a group of residents. Washington said the attack was as brutal as it was indiscriminate: He was “fighting everyone.”
One woman was hit in the back. Others who poured out of the Eleanor U. Kennedy Shelter to try to contain the man were pummeled as well. Washington said he would not stop, so she retreated inside the shelter where she lives.
When officers were called to the scene to break up the assault, the man turned on one of them, too, Fairfax County police said. An officer opened fire during the melee, hitting the man. Washington said she saw the aftermath from a shelter window.
“The man was shot in the chest and the police were trying to stop his bleeding, but he was still fighting them,” Washington said.
The man, whom police have yet to identify, later died at a hospital. Several others injured in the assault were also taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries, police said.
The incident remained under investigation Thursday and police did not give an indication of what might have set the man off. Washington said the man was a resident of the 50-bed shelter, near the Tulley Gate of the army base on Richmond Highway.
The shooting is also being investigated by the police Internal Affairs bureau, which is standard in such cases.
Marvin and Debra Britt, who live in an apartment near the shelter, said they heard the shooting unfold and said there was a large police and emergency response. Like others, they said they heard three shots fired.
“I was sitting here on my laptop — then pop, pop, pop,” Debra Britt said in her living room Thursday.
Marvin Britt said he saw at least four people loaded onto stretchers and taken to the hospital. Britt said he had seen the victim sitting in front of a nearby 7-11 shortly before the shooting. He sometimes saw the man drinking near the side of the same store.
Surveillance video from the 7-11 obtained by NBC 4 Washington showed the same man smashing a 2-liter bottle of soda and swiping items off a counter inside, apparently just after Britt saw the man at the store.
Rev. Keary Kincannon of the Rising Hope United Methodist Church said the man was a regular at the church’s soup kitchen. Kincannon said he was respectful, quiet and kept to himself.
“When people asked him to help, he would pick up a broom or move food around the pantry,” Kincannon said. “He was more than willing.”
Kincannon said he knew little of the man’s background and did not know of any family in the area.
The shooting comes two months after Fairfax County police shot a 46-year-old Springfield man at his home, following a call for a domestic dispute. John Geer’s father said his son was unarmed at the time of the shooting, but there was a gun on a nearby staircase. The investigation into that case continues.