- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The 18-year-old gunman who killed a Fairfax County police detective and wounded two officers had spent time in a mental health facility and was armed with an AK-47-style weapon, a high-powered rifle and five handguns when he ambushed the officers Monday.

“This was an unprovoked attack, an ambush,” Fairfax County Police Chief David Rohrer said.

Michael William Kennedy, 18, of Centreville, was wearing a black mask and dressed in camouflage clothing when he fired more than 70 rounds at officers in the parking lot of the Sully District Station in Chantilly at about 3:50 p.m. He had extensive ammunition for the weapons, including “banana” magazine clips and bags of bullets, police said.

The teenager had tried to carjack a Ford pickup truck in the 14800 block of Bodley Square of Centreville about 20 minutes before the shooting, but the truck’s owner ran off with the keys in his pocket.

Kennedy then carjacked a Chevrolet minivan in the 6200 block of Paddington Lane at about 3:45 p.m., police said. He drove to the police station parking lot, got out and began firing at officers.

Detective Vicky O. Armel, 40, a nine-year member of the county police, was one of the officers hit. She died at Inova Fairfax Hospital.

The detective, who was married to a Fairfax detective and had two young children, is the first officer in the police department’s 66-year-old history to be fatally shot in the line of duty.

She was responding to a radio broadcast of Kennedy’s carjacking attempt when he confronted her in the parking lot, police said.

“On the day she died, she was doing her job right to the last moment. It’s the kind of person she was,” Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. said.

Four officers, including Detective Armel, fired back at Kennedy. Authorities were awaiting the results of an autopsy to determine whether police killed the teen or whether he killed himself.

“We’re not going to know until they do the ballistics on the bullets,” police spokeswoman Mary Ann Jennings said. “We have no reason to believe he died of suicide.”

A 53-year-old officer wounded in the gunfight remained in critical condition at the hospital yesterday.

The officer — a 23-year member of the force — was parking his cruiser when the gunfight began. He was hit more than five times.

A second officer, 28 and a five-year veteran, was treated for minor injuries.

Officer Edward Orellana said investigators “have no indication” that Kennedy targeted Detective Armel.

The Associated Press reported that police were trying to find Kennedy’s parents — Brian H. Kennedy, 49, and Margaret J. Kennedy, 44, of the 6200 block of Prince Way in Centreville — and his 8-year-old sister, all of whom were last seen about the time of the Monday attack.

Late yesterday, the attorney for the Kennedy family said that the family members were “in seclusion” and that “they are trying to comprehend the tragic events” of Monday.

The statement also offered thoughts and prayers to the family of Detective Armel.

On April 18, the Kennedys drove their son to the Potomac Ridge Behavioral Health Center in Rockville, where he was voluntarily admitted. Within seven hours, he walked out of an unlocked room in the 87-bed facility, broke a window and escaped, AP reported.

Kennedy then carjacked a 33-year-old man, according to Montgomery County court records.

Montgomery County police said Kennedy turned himself in to Fairfax County police later that night. He was returned to Montgomery County custody April 22 and released after posting a $33,000 property bond.

Fairfax County court records show that Kennedy previously had been charged with reckless handling of a firearm and a seat-belt violation.

Friends and former classmates of Kennedy, who graduated from Westfield High School in Chantilly last year, said he was into “dark art,” computer design and had made jokes about shooting at police.

“I remember a comment he made in physics class; he said he was going to shoot up a police station,” said Yasmeen Davis, 18. “Just last year he started making those jokes, but no one ever took that seriously.”

Ryan Gwin, a neighbor of Kennedy’s, said the teenager was “always a nice guy” but had started to make strange comments.

“He had this idea that zombies would take over, and he would have to lead an army out of Wegman’s [grocery store] because there was a lot of food in it,” said Mr. Gwin, 20.

Brendan Baker, another classmate and friend, said Kennedy had “talked about how he thought he was God” and “he thought he was Jesus.”

“The past couple of months, he was degrading into a different Mike that no one wanted to talk with,” said Mr. Baker, 18. “The way he dressed changed a bit, and he talked about how he was superhuman.”

Daniel Sforza, who graduated with Kennedy and said he was one of the gunman’s best friends, talked to him via computer less than an hour before the shooting.

Mr. Sforza said Kennedy “seemed like himself.”

“He was having a lot of emotional problems and dealing with a lot of mental capability problems,” said Mr. Sforza, 18, a student at Virginia Commonwealth University. But “the whole situation was a total shock. I never would have expected that from him.”

Kennedy went by the name Herr Azriel on his page at the Web site www.myspace.com. The page now is filled with comments by Kennedy’s friends, who call him a great artist, wish for him to rest in peace, and simply ask why.

“Well, you did what you always claimed wanting to do,” one user commented. “I’ve never prayed for anyone before, but I’ll do it for your sake tonight, praying that there is no hell.”

Matthew Cella contributed to this report.


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