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Suspect, Victim Die Following 24-Hour Standoff in Falls Church

Fairfax County Police officer Eddie Azcarate confirmed to the News-Press that the suspect involved in a 24-hour-long standoff with police, 44-year-old John T. Valentini, died Thursday, July 16 at INOVA Fairfax Hospital from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his upper body. Police officers, aided by SWAT Team members, were unable to reach a peaceful negotiation with Valentini, who holed himself up inside his home at 7633 Lisle Avenue in Falls Church after reportedly shooting and killing his ex-girlfriend, 36-year-old Hillary E. Bradford of McLean, over a domestic dispute about the 8-year-old son the former couple shared. Bradford died Friday, July 17 at INOVA around 2 p.m. standoff2

Fairfax County Police officer Eddie Azcarate confirmed to the News-Press that the suspect involved in a 24-hour-long standoff with police, 44-year-old John T. Valentini, died Thursday, July 16 at INOVA Fairfax Hospital from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his upper body. Police officers, aided by SWAT Team members, were unable to reach a peaceful negotiation with Valentini, who holed himself up inside his home at 7633 Lisle Avenue in Falls Church after reportedly shooting and killing his ex-girlfriend, 36-year-old Hillary E. Bradford of McLean, over a domestic dispute about the 8-year-old son the former couple shared. Bradford died Friday, July 17 at INOVA around 2 p.m.

It is believed the Valentini hid inside his house — with the son and Valentini’s current girlfriend — around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 14 after shooting Bradford outside. She was later found critically injured on site when police responded to phoned-in noise complaint by a nearby resident about a gunshot sound heard in the 7700 block of Fisher Drive.

Immediately after the standoff came to an end around 6:38 p.m. Wednesday, Tawny Wright of Fairfax County Police told reporters that upon entering the home by force, police heard a gunshot in the back of the property and found the “deceased gunman” inside, though did not report it as suicide at the time. Later, after the News-Press had already gone to print, contradicting reports released at 11 p.m. Wednesday, July 15 from Fairfax County Police revealed Valentini was in fact alive with “critical injuries” from a “self-inflicted” gunshot wound. He was then taken to INOVA Fairfax Hostpial, where he was pronounced dead at 4:12 a.m. Thursday.

The woman and boy trapped inside the home with Valentini survived with no reported injuries. The woman was seen being escorted outside Wednesday in hand-cuffs, though police said the method was standard procedure.

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The scene looking south down Lisle Avenue in Falls Church. (News-Press)

“We are working on putting everything together. This [was] not a random situation. Everyone involved here [knew] each other,” said Azcarate. Valentini’s current girlfriend and his son, who both survived the day-long standoff, have not been called hostages by police.

Nearby residents were allowed to come and go as they pleased, not having been issued any formal warnings to stay inside, according to Azcarate. However, police have blocked off part of Lisle Avenue, and sections of Edgar Court and Fisher Drive in the Pimmit Hills neighborhood during the standoff.

“Neighbors went to work [Wednesday morning] as usual. They [were] OK, traffic around them [was] free flowing and cars [were] moving along just fine,” said Azcarate, who went on to say that the type of response seen Wednesday “is not uncommon.”

“We provide all assets the police department has in order to resolve situations like these peacefully. We’re going to employ them all,” he said.

Azcarate called the response a “large footprint,” noting the presence of a negotiator bus, a command bus and the SWAT team.

“We want him to come out peacefully. We want this to be resolved,” said Azcarate, when negotiations were still being made over the phone with the alleged gunman.

A team of SWAT officers forced entry into the house after several hours of attempted negotiations by the Crisis Negotiations Team. They “made contact with the people inside the home and strived to have the occupants exit voluntarily,” according to the Fairfax County Police. Once communication ceased and concern grew for the welfare of those inside, officers took action.

The Fairfax County Police Department expressed thanks to all Falls Church residents affected by the police presence in the Pimmitt Hills neighborhood.

This is the seventh homicide in Fairfax County this year.

Stay with the News-Press Online as more details unfold.

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Update (7/15, 3 p.m.): A Fairfax County Police officer at the scene told the News-Press the gunman inside the home has a rifle, going on to say, “That’s why members of the media aren’t allowed past this tape. He may see you taking his photograph and label you a target.”

Update (7/15, 6:30 p.m.): It’s now been 24 hours since the original phone call was made regarding what started as a noise complaint in response to a gunshot heard by a nearby resident. Fairfax County Police cannot offer any update on the hospitalized victim’s condition. The stand-off continues.

Update (7/15, 7 p.m.): The stand-off ended when police entered the home. The gunman was found dead inside. A woman and young boy escaped safe and without injuries.

Update (7/16, 11 p.m.): Police contradict previous reports, now saying the “deceased gunman” is alive after all. The suspect is currently at INOVA Fairfax with “critical” and “self-inflicted” injuries, the same location where the women he shot before the stand-off began is at. Updates on her condition are still unknown.

Update (7/16, 11:05 p.m.): Police are calling the incident a domestic dispute.

Update (7/16, 1:30 p.m.): Police officer Eddy Azcarate confirmed to the News-Press that the suspect died at 4:12 a.m. Thursday morning at INOVA Fairfax Hospital from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Update (7/16, 1:57 p.m.): An official press release sent to the News-Press from Fairfax County Police reveals the deceased suspect as 44-year-old John T. Valentini.

Update (7/20, 1:30 p.m.): An official release from Fairfax County Police confirms 36-year-old Hillary Bradford died Friday, July 17 around 2 p.m.