Updated: Main Line Boulevard shooting suspect taken into custody

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Updated: Main Line Boulevard shooting suspect taken into custody
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June 10 report:

A 32-year-old woman was arrested and taken into custody early Saturday morning after barricading herself in her Potomac Yard apartment and firing on police.

The incident began early on June 5, when residents in the Notch 8 apartment complex in the 2900 block of Mainline Boulevard in Potomac Yard heard shouting coming from a fourth-floor apartment.

Alexandria Police Department officers responded to a potential domestic violence incident at 9:23 a.m., after receiving a call from someone who had overheard the shouting.

“The responding units arrived at the apartment door and heard gunshots and what appeared to be gunshots through the door,” APD spokesperson Lt. Courtney Ballantine said in an email. “They immediately sought cover and declared a barricade situation.”

Garrison Hayes, 29, a Notch 8 resident and associate pastor at Community Praise Church, lives in a unit almost directly below where the suspect had barricaded herself. Hayes heard the first gunshot, but initially thought it was coming from a nearby construction site.

“We kind of didn’t think much of it for a few moments, but it wasn’t long before we heard the first crack,” Garrison Hayes, 29, a Notch 8 resident and associate pastor at Community Praise Church, said. “This is a really specific example, but I don’t know if you know the sound of a broom falling and hitting a hardwood floor? That kind of clap, that kind of cracking sound. That’s exactly what it sounded like.”

Hayes looked out over his balcony to identify the source of the noise and noticed people outside the building scrambling and running away from the building. After another series of loud cracks, Hayes and his wife realized the source of the noise and ran to their closet, Hayes said.

“There was this kind of frenetic energy out there. People [were] kind of a little on edge, trying to figure out what’s going on,” Hayes said.

APD’s special operations team arrived on the scene and knocked on the suspect’s door and were allegedly also fired upon. Police attempted to breach the apartment, but “the door was blocked with items put to stop the door from being opened,” Ballantine said in an email.

Around 11 a.m., APD informed residents in the immediate vicinity to stay in place and for people to avoid the area until further notice.

The APD Hostage Negotiations Team was called in to establish communication with the suspect.

“Our Hostage Negotiations Team attempted to communicate with her throughout the incident. They used bull horns and attempted to calm her,” Ballantine said. 

Residents also reported witnessing and hearing an explosion outside the apartment complex, which has been attributed to the controlled disposal of a flash bang.

“The controlled disposal of a flash bang was done outside in a safe area. Once the pin was pulled it cannot be reinserted so it had to be disposed of safely,” Ballantine said.

For Hayes, the whole situation was “surreal,” he said.

“Honestly, it was really alarming and very surreal. We think a lot about active shooters in this world and kind of to be in that moment, it’s disorienting in a ‘Is this real?’ kind of way,” Hayes said.

By noon, police officers had informed and escorted a handful of residents, including Hayes and his wife, who were in the units in the immediate proximity of the suspect’s apartment down to the lobby. Officers asked Hayes and his wife if there were any bullet holes in their ceiling or walls, Hayes said.

For the next seven hours, Hayes, his wife and a handful of residents remained in the lobby, receiving periodic updates from APD officers who made it clear that the duration of the standoff was in the hands of the suspect.

“[The suspect] had all the amenities of being at home, and so they made it very clear that they, Alexandria police, were on the time of the person inside,” Hayes said. “ … They weren’t going to force their way inside or put anyone in danger or at risk.”

At 7:30 p.m., Hayes and his wife decided to book a room in a hotel for the night, but they returned to the Target parking lot across the street from the apartment complex to watch the situation unfold. Because they knew where the apartment was, the Hayes were able to see the suspect pacing back and forth, watching T.V. and smoking.

“We were really curious about what was going on and what was going through this lady’s mind or what she was doing in there,” Hayes said. “ … We prayed for her. As Christians, that’s what we felt was the little bit that we could do for someone that was really in such a tough situation. … You have to be going through something to be shooting randomly and to fire on cops.”

APD had breached the apartment door by midnight, although no immediate contact had been established with the suspect, who was alone and not responding to officers, Ballantine said.

The Fairfax County Police special operations unit relieved APD’s team at 2 a.m. on Saturday and the suspect was arrested at 3 a.m. after she appeared to have fallen asleep, Ballantine said. The suspect was not physically injured and was transported to a local hospital. She is receiving mental health services at this time.

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June 5 report:

A suspect is currently barricaded and firing on police in the 2900 block of Main Line Boulevard in Potomac Yard.

Alexandria Police Department officers responded to a potential domestic violence incident at 9:23 a.m. on Friday, after receiving a call from someone who had overheard an argument in an apartment building in the 2900 block, APD spokesperson Courtney Ballantine said.

“The responding units arrived at the apartment door and heard gunshots and what appeared to be gunshots through the door,” Ballantine said in an email. “They immediately sought cover and declared a barricade situation.”

Witnesses and residents of Notch 8, an apartment building in the 2900 block, reported hearing shots fired. Residents in the building were evacuated evacuated by police, according to one resident on Twitter.

Police cruisers and armored police vehicles are still present in the area, witnesses have reported via Twitter.

The Alexandria Police Department has warned residents in the area to stay in place and for others to avoid the area and stay alert. 

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