The Washington Post

Alexandria police asking for help in Ronald Kirby death

The home on Elm Street in Alexandria where Ronald Kirby was shot to death on Monday. (Matt Zapotosky/The Washington Post)

Alexandria police on Thursday asked for help in solving the slaying of 69-year-old Ronald Kirby this week, saying they do not have a person of interest in the death of the prominent regional transportation planner.

“We’d like to have anyone who has any information, who might have been in contact with him in a social way or any other way that they think may bear some information to this investigation — we’d like them to come forward,” Alexandria Police Chief Earl L. Cook said at a news conference at police headquarters.

Kirby, the director of transportation planning at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, died Monday after being shot multiple times in the torso, according to authorities, who are investigating the case as a homicide.

In an interview, Kirby’s wife, Anne G. Haynes, 71, said she saw her husband Monday morning before leaving for a doctor’s appointment. She spoke to him by phone about 10 or 11 a.m., asking for directions to a place where she volunteered. It wasn’t until she came home about 3:30 p.m. and saw the police tape surrounding her home that she learned that her husband had been found dead by his son, 33-year-old Josef Kirby.

Haynes can’t understand why anyone would kill her husband.

“He had no enemies; he was very well liked throughout the region,” she said. “We never fought. He didn’t have fights with anyone.”

Police searched the home for a weapon, she said, but did not find one. The front door was not tampered with, and nothing was stolen. She suspects the killer may have gotten in through the basement, which may not have been locked.

Investigators are particularly interested in Kirby’s activities in the past four to six weeks.

Kirby may or may not have been personally targeted, Cook said. “We cannot eliminate any possibilities whatsoever.”

Police are also asking anyone who heard or saw anything unusual near Kirby’s Rosemont home to come forward.

“We do at this time think it is localized to this neighborhood and this incident,” Cook added. “We do not think that we have a crazed killer in the neighborhood that is probably going to accost or harm someone else at this time.”

Ashley Hildebrandt, an Alexandria police spokeswoman, has said there were no obvious signs of forced entry at the house. Residents of his quiet, friendly neighborhood were stunned by the news.

December 2012: Ronald Kirby, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, says we need to persuade the market to take advantage of opportunities in the eastern part of the region. (WashingtonPostLive Production/Washington Post Live)

The slaying, Alexandria’s fifth this year, has also sent shock waves through the District’s media and political circles.

Among those who spoke fondly of Kirby after his death were D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D), Rep. James P. Moran (D-Va.) and Alexandria Mayor William D. Euille (D), who called Kirby “a transportation guru.”

COG’s executive director, Chuck Bean, said Tuesday that the organization was “devastated by the loss.”

Officials credited Kirby with helping to establish a program to monitor regional traffic day to day, as well as during big events and emergencies. David F. Snyder, vice mayor of Falls Church, said Kirby was particularly good at working with all sides in the debate over whether the region’s gridlock can best be relieved through building more roads or expanding public transit.

“There are few people who are irreplaceable, but he comes as close to it as anyone,” Snyder said.

Anyone who has information that might help the investigation can contact the Alexandria police at 703-746-6711.

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.

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