- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 29, 2005

Fairfax County police said yesterday that a McLean man who fatally shot his mother, three others and himself on Christmas Day morning had been involved in a shooting a few days earlier with one of his victims.

Police said Nathan Cheatham, 27, and Adam Price, 19, fired two bullets into a residence in the 900 block of Utterback Store Road in Great Falls at about 4:50 a.m. Dec. 21.

Police said one bullet went through a window and into a bedroom wall. The other bullet went through a gutter and into the roof.

The pair fired several more times in the 500 block of Utterback Store Road at about 7 a.m., police said.

No one was injured in those shootings.

Officer Richard Henry, a county police spokesman, said that police were trying to determine whether the weapon used in the Dec. 21 shootings was the weapon used in the Christmas Day slayings.

“We still have the shell casings that were collected the day of the incidents, and we’re going to compare those to the ones from the homicide,” he said.

Officer Henry also said police were still investigating whether Cheatham and Mr. Price had targeted homes or whether the shootings were random.

Police, who previously said Cheatham was mentally unstable, said they think that he grew concerned about authorities’ discovering his involvement in the Dec. 21 shootings.

Officer Henry said police were aware of the Dec. 21 shootings and were investigating them prior to the homicides, but that they had not linked Cheatham or Mr. Price to the incidents before Christmas.

The 500 block of Utterback Store Road is less than a half mile from where the Price family lived in the 10700 block of Sycamore Springs Lane.

Cheatham fatally shot his mother, Sheila, 53, at her home in the 8500 block of Lewinsville Road in McLean between 9:30 and 10 a.m. Sunday, police said. He then drove to a house in the 10700 block of Sycamore Springs Lane in Great Falls and fatally shot Janina Price, 50, her son Adam and family friend Christopher Buro, 20, police said.

A 20-year-old man escaped after hiding in the basement during the shootings. Neighbors identified him as Mrs. Price’s son Alex.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that Mrs. Price and Adam might have been involved in a drug-selling operation and that Adam Price had been charged with drug possession as a juvenile.

Adam Price did not have a criminal record as an adult in Fairfax County, according to court records.

Police said a witness saw Mrs. Cheatham and her son in a car at their home about 9:30 a.m. Sunday. A short time later, gunshots were heard, but not reported.

According to Fairfax County court records, Cheatham had been convicted of possession of drug paraphernalia in 2002, assault and battery of a police officer or firefighter and carrying a concealed weapon in 2001. The charges were misdemeanors.

He also was convicted on a misdemeanor charge of escaping jail while awaiting trial in 2001.

Police don’t expect to have the results of toxicology tests conducted on Cheatham and the victims for at least two weeks.

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