- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Kathy Ilyas was in the shower, preparing to take her two sons to Texas yesterday morning when three gunshots rang through the three-level town house across the road from Fort Belvoir.

Just before 7 a.m., she was still soaking wet and wearing a robe when she ran out of her home in the 5500 block of Woodlawn Manor Court and screamed, "My babies dead. My babies dead."

Fairfax County police found 11-year-old Zak on the lower level and 14-year-old Aaron on the upper level. On the midlevel was their father, Suhail Ilyas, 53.

Mr. Ilyas and Aaron were dead. Zak was airlifted by police helicopter to Inova Fairfax Hospital, where he, too, was pronounced dead.

"The father killed both of his sons by gunshot and then turned the gun on himself," said Officer Sophia Grinnan, a Fairfax County police spokeswoman. She described the weapon as a handgun.

The boys were in bed and might have been asleep, Officer Grinnan said.

Detectives determined last evening that the deaths were "domestic related," Officer Grinnan said.

"Actually, they were leaving for Texas this morning, the wife and two boys," said Bernadette Marshall, 40, who lives two doors away from the Ilyas home. Her daughter, Nakia, 13, went to Walt Whitman Middle School with Aaron.

She believed they were going "on vacation" to Mrs. Ilyas' home state.

A new, gray Honda with Texas plates was parked in front of the Ilyases' town house.

Zak was a student at Washington Mill Elementary. Fairfax schools closed for the summer Friday.

"He seemed like a very nice person to me," Mrs. Marshall said of Mr. Ilyas, a native of Pakistan who moved into the town house with his family a year ago.

Mrs. Marshall said she was awakened by Nakia, who had been sleeping upstairs with her window open, shouting, "Aaron's mom is outside crying."

"She was very distraught," Mrs. Marshall said, adding that the 911 operator did not understand the emergency when Mrs. Ilyas called.

Another neighbor then called 911, and police arrived minutes later.

It appeared that no neighbors heard gunshots. Neighbor Elia Breaux said she became aware of the tragedy only when she saw the emergency vehicles.

Mr. Ilyas owned the Super 7 food store on Richmond Highway, about a half-mile from his home. He bought the business from the estate of Surinder "Paul" Sharma, who was stabbed to death in April 2000. That homicide is unsolved.

Mr. Sharma "was closing up when he was stabbed in the back. He was a friendly guy," said Tony Wanzer, 44, an auto-detail employee who lived a block from the Ilyases but was not acquainted with the family.

The Ilyas boys were active and likable, neighbors said. They especially liked skateboarding. A neighbor reportedly complained to Mr. Ilyas when a ramp was placed in the court parking lot.

"They were into skateboarding," Mrs. Marshall said. "They were out here a lot. They loved the outdoors. They were even outside when it snowed."

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