- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 13, 2006

The first Fairfax County police officer killed by gunfire was laid to rest yesterday as mourners and fellow officers gave her a hero’s farewell.

About 2,500 people filled McLean Bible Church to say goodbye to Detective Vicky O. Armel, who was killed Monday in a shootout in the parking lot of the Sully District Station in Chantilly.

“A good police officer is about character and heart, and Vicky had character and heart,” police Chief David M. Rohrer said. “Vicky Armel will never be forgotten.”

Chief Rohrer said the incident had been a very difficult time for him, but it was also one of his proudest moments because the actions of Detective Armel and other officers had prevented more deaths.

Gunman Michael Kennedy, 18, opened fire Monday outside the Fairfax County Police Department’s Sully District Station, killing Detective Armel, 40, and wounding Officer Michael E. Garbarino, 53, who remains in critical condition. Kennedy was killed in a gunbattle with police in which more than 120 rounds of ammunition were fired.

Detective Armel was the fourth Fairfax County officer to be killed in the line of duty, but the first in the department’s 66-year history to be fatally shot. The other three were killed in automobile crashes.

“I haven’t seen anything like this in 31 years,” said Rick Jacoby, communications supervisor for the Rockville branch of the Maryland State Police, referring to the attack at Sully station. “For a guy to walk into a police station parking lot, hitting your home turf, the one place you should be safe. … It puts a new touch of reality on things.”

Hundreds of officers flanked the entrance to the church and solemnly saluted the flag-draped casket as it was carried inside.

“She was our protector,” said Gerald E. Connolly, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. Mr. Connolly and Virginia Public Safety Secretary John W. Marshall presented county and state flags to Detective Armel’s husband, Tyler, who also is a police detective.

She also left behind two young children.

Thousands of people lined the funeral procession route, which went by the Sully station to the Bright View Cemetery in Warrenton, Va., where a private interment was held.

A giant American flag attached to two firetruck ladders hung over Leesburg Pike as a motorcade of hundreds passed underneath.

“It’s sad that the world has come to this point,” said James Bailey, 53, of Sterling, who parked his truck on Leesburg Pike and waited more than an hour for the procession to pass. “It’s unbelievable to think something like this could happen. … It’s a heartbreaking situation.”

Meski Debru of Vienna, Va., stood in the median of Leesburg Pike with a camcorder, videotaping as hundreds of law-enforcement vehicles from as far away as New York came past.

Miss Debru said she made a point of bringing her two children, Natty, 10, and Sarah, 8, to watch the procession.

Detective Armel “died protecting the citizens,” Miss Debru said. “I thought it was important to come out and show respect.”

Miss Debru’s sister, Rebecca Kifle, 24, said the death gave her a “newfound respect” for what police officers do.

Sue Ward, 60, said she and husband, Robert, 45, were headed to a family member’s home, but decided to stop and pay respect by watching the procession.

“The way [Detective Armel died] was horrible,” Mrs. Ward said. “There should have been some intervention beforehand on the [Kennedy] family’s part.”

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