- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 14, 2006

ASHBURN, Va. — Investigators said yesterday that there were more questions than answers about why a man held a gas-station cashier hostage for several hours before a sharpshooter killed him.

“Why he did what he did, we’re still trying to piece that together and don’t have a real good answer for that,” Loudoun County Sheriff Stephen O. Simpson said.

The drama began unfolding Monday afternoon when investigators said Aleksandrin Bozhilov pumped gas into his car at an Exxon station. When he went into the store to pay, the female cashier told Bozhilov that he had to first remove the gas nozzle from the car and return it to the pump. That led to some confusion, and Bozhilov got so agitated that he jumped the counter and grabbed the woman — sending panicked customers fleeing, mistakenly thinking there was a robbery.

Over the course of about four hours, Bozhilov, 30, of Winchester, occasionally brought the woman out of the store in a chokehold. Attempts by hostage negotiators to talk to him were futile.

“When he would talk to us, he was irrational, violent. He made threats that he would kill himself and her, the hostage,” Sheriff Simpson said.

“He made no demands or anything else. One minute he sounded like he wanted to talk, the next minute he’d hang up, and when you’d call back, he was very argumentative and violent on the phone,” said Sheriff Simpson.

When Bozhilov emerged a final time — holding a scissors to the woman’s neck — a sharpshooter killed him with a single shot. That deputy has been placed on routine administrative leave.

The sheriff’s office did not know what Bozhilov, a native of Bulgaria, was doing at the gas station, about 45 miles east of his home. They said he had no apparent connection to either the station or the clerk.

WUSA-TV obtained a copy of an order of protection Bozhilov’s wife had obtained about 72 hours before the hostage taking. The station reported that the couple fought after the wife asked him to carry groceries into their house.

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