A 29-year-old Hispanic man who had just been released from Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church was fatally shot by a deputy with the Fairfax County’s Sheriff’s Office in the early morning hours of Tuesday, Aug. 16, according to multiple sources with the Fairfax County Police Department. The identity of the man has not been revealed because his next of kin has not been notified, according to the police department.
The Fairfax County Police Department’s chief, Edwin C. Roessler, Jr., held a press conference about the incident in Fairfax at around 11 a.m. on August 16, where he said that the man was holding a metal signpost with a sharp spade on the bottom that he removed from the ground and charged the deputy with the signpost, prompting the deputy to shoot the man. Roessler, Jr. said that the man was given also given orders to stand down by the deputy.
“First, my thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved in this event today,” Roessler, Jr. said. “This is a tragic loss of life. It also includes an event when someone else was injured. So, again, I express my extreme condolences to everyone involved.”
The police said at the press conference that the incident began when the man was escorted out of the hospital by hospital security after receiving treatment at the hospital. The hospital security directed the man to a nearby bus stop and went back inside the hospital. Shortly after that, hospital security received at least two phone calls from people saying that the man was swinging around a signpost. When hospital security went to check out the claims, the man struck one of the hospital security guards with the signpost. He was later treated for minor injuries and released.
According to sources with the police department and the sheriff’s office, deputies with the sheriff’s office were guarding an inmate who was receiving medical care at Inova Fairfax Hospital when they overheard the radio dispatches between the hospital security about the man with the signpost. Roessler, Jr. said that it is part of the deputies’ duties when they are at Inova Fairfax Hospital guarding an inmate is to monitor the hospital security’s radio dispatches.
At about the same time, according to Roessler, Jr., 911 was called and several Fairfax County police officers were dispatched and responding to the scene at the Falls Church medical campus.
One of the deputies present at the hospital responded to the scene and, according to the police department, attempted to deescalate the situation by talking to the man, but once the man charged him with the signpost, he fired his gun and shot the man.
“The deputy sheriff gave orders for the man to cease his activity. At the same time, the man kept on coming at the deputy sheriff, while the deputy sheriff with weapon drawn, was tactically trying to retreat, but unfortunately the adult male kept on coming at him with the signpost in a cocked position, ready to strike,” Roessler, Jr. said.
“Immediately, the deputy sheriff fired his duty weapon at the adult male.” Police said that because the investigation into the incident is ongoing, they are not permitted to reveal how many times the man was shot.
Moments later, several police with the Fairfax County Police Department arrived at the scene and attempted to aid the man who was shot until Fairfax County Fire and Rescue arrived on the scene. Once they arrived the transported the man to the hospital, where his condition was initially reported to be non-life threatening. Shortly before 11 a.m. on August 16, the police department announced that he had died in the hospital. When asked how the man’s condition declined from non-life threatening to life-threatening, Roessler, Jr. deferred to the office of the medical examiner.
Chief Roessler, Jr. said that although the investigation is in its initial stages, that the man who was fatally shot was experiencing some kind of “mental episode.” He said that video evidence of the incident exists, but that it won’t be released to the public at this time because it’s part of an ongoing investigation.
The police department’s Major Crimes Division is conducting a criminal investigation of the incident and all evidence and reports will be turned over to the Fairfax office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney for determination of any criminal liability. The police department said that they would be updating the public about this incident as more information becomes available or within the next 30 days.