Son of Fairfax officer arrested after taking cruiser, firing shots, state police say

The son of a Fairfax County police officer has been arrested for taking his father’s cruiser out for a high-speed drive and activating the emergency lights, wearing a police uniform shirt and firing a gun, authorities said.

James Michael Puebla Berling, 27, of Centreville, and an acquaintance are facing a number of charges after a Virginia State Police trooper spotted the cruiser speeding down Route 29 in Centreville with its lights on shortly after 1 a.m. on March 16, state police said.

Trooper J.H. Stubblefield followed the cruiser at a distance and notified Fairfax County police. As the trooper rounded a corner in his car, he saw the cruiser pull onto Stillfield Place and stop, state police said.

The driver and the passenger fled into the woods on foot. The trooper was able to detain the passenger, who was identified as 18-year-old Caitlin Lee of Centreville, authorities said. Berling was apprehended after Fairfax County police set up a perimeter and searched the area. Berling was found wearing his father’s uniform shirt, authorities said.

Fairfax County police had received reports of shots fired in the area earlier in the evening, police said. When they investigated, police said, they determined that Berling had fired a weapon inside his home.

Fairfax County Police Officer James Berling was out of town when the cruiser was taken and is not facing any disciplinary action, Fairfax County police said. The weapon fired inside the home was not a service weapon, police said.

The younger Berling is facing charges of unauthorized use of vehicle, reckless handling of a firearm and impersonating a law enforcement officer. Lee is facing charges of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, possession of a controlled substance and possession of marijuana.

No attorneys are listed for Berling and Lee in court records, and neither could be reached for comment.

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