By Derrick Perkins
Veteran police officer Peter Laboy continues to make progress in a Washington hospital as authorities struggle to find a motive behind the shooting that left him grievously wounded.
Laboy, 45, was airlifted to MedStar Washington Hospital Center on February 27 after Alexandria Yellow Taxi driver Kashif Bashir allegedly opened fire during what authorities describe as a routine traffic stop near Lyles-Crouch Traditional Academy. A 17-year veteran of the department, Laboy suffered a gunshot wound to the head and collapsed within sight of children playing outside the nearby school.
He did not return fire, officials said.
Bashir, 27, of Woodbridge, then led police on a chase that involved several jurisdictions. He was arrested after crashing his cab in Fairfax County and later charged with malicious wounding of a law enforcement officer and using a firearm in commission of a felony. Bashir, a Pakistani national, is being held without bond. He has been assigned a public defender and is expected back in court April 10 for a preliminary hearing.
But nearly a week after the shooting, what prompted Bashir to allegedly take aim at Laboy remains a mystery.
“He’s been uncooperative with detectives, so we still don’t really know why,” said police spokesman Jody Donaldson. “That’s a frustrating piece for us. It’s still an active investigation, it’s ongoing — they’re doing a lot of talking to witnesses and putting together the pieces on our end. A lot of effort is going into this investigation.”
Authorities began looking for Bashir in the hours before the shooting. Employees of an Old Town boutique contacted police after an incident in the store, Donaldson said. Officers in the neighborhood were instructed to stop Bashir’s cab if spotted.
Laboy, riding a department-issued motorcycle, was the first to see him, said Donaldson.
“A few minutes later, calls to our 911 emergency center were saying, ‘Officer down,’” he recalled.
An occasionally emotional Chief Earl Cook outlined much of what is known about the confrontation during a press conference just hours after the incident. He described Laboy as a cop’s cop.
“Words cannot express how we feel about this horrific event,” Cook told reporters.
Officials have closed ranks around the Laboy family in the days since the shooting. A moment of silence was held for the wounded officer during Saturday’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade — an event Laboy would have ridden in — and members of the Alexandria Police Association are accepting cash and material donations on behalf of the family. Virtue Feed and Grain will host a silent auction fundraiser this weekend.
“I’m his supervisor, and whenever I have a special detail, a special assignment, he always volunteers to do that, even the unpleasant tasks,” said Sgt. Brian Thompson, who has known Laboy since he joined the department in the 1990s. “He’s always the first one to jump in; that’s kind of his personality. He loves his job — nothing is too unpleasant for him to do.”
Suzanne Laboy has documented her husband’s recovery online. As of Tuesday morning, she reported he was making daily progress. Swelling from the wound had gone down, and his eyes were open.
“Can’t wait to see how Peter is this morning,” she wrote earlier in the day. “Thankfully I have the support to not worry too much about anything other than getting ready to go see my ‘Superman.’ I’m sure I cannot say thank you enough to these people in our lives at this time, but I’ll try.”