- The Washington Times - Friday, January 12, 2007



Police to rethink SWAT use after killing

Fairfax County police went overboard in using a SWAT team to arrest an unarmed man who was fatally shot by an officer last January, according to an internal review released yesterday.

The report from Police Chief David M. Rohrer determined that the SWAT team was not needed to arrest Salvatore Culosi, 37, of Fairfax. Mr. Culosi died Jan. 24 after being struck in the chest by a bullet.

Officer Deval Bullock, a 17-year veteran, fired his weapon by accident, according to the report. Officer Bullock told investigators that he did not realize he had fired his weapon, even after hearing the gunshot. The report attributes the shoot-ing to a “reflex-like involuntary muscle contraction” that occurred while Officer Bullock tried to steady himself after bumping into an open car door.

Chief Rohrer disciplined Officer Bullock last month for failing to control his movements and placement of his trigger finger. Fairfax County Common-wealth’s Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. decided against prosecuting Officer Bullock.

The shooting also prompted debate about the appropriate use of SWAT teams.

Police planned to arrest Mr. Culosi, who they said illegally took thousands of dollars in sports bets from an undercover officer. The report acknowl-edges that Mr. Culosi — an optometrist with no criminal record — was not a high-risk arrest.

“The specific tactics used to arrest Mr. Culosi … were not necessary,” Chief Rohrer said. “This arrest could have been accomplished using lower-risk, less-complex techniques.”

Fairfax police frequently used the SWAT team to conduct arrests made by the department’s Organized Crime and Narcotics Division, which investigated Mr. Culosi.

The report recommends a change in procedures to more closely scrutinize the need for a SWAT team before any arrest.


Commission OKs mall rezoning plan

The Fairfax County Planning Commission last night approved a rezoning request required to build a massive addition to Tysons Corner Center.

The commission’s decision will be forwarded to the county’s Board of Supervisors for its vote and approval.

Macerich Co., the Santa Monica, Calif., owner of Tysons Corner, wanted to more than double the size of the shopping center with residential, office and hotel buildings, as well as more retail space. It was a four-phase project tied to an extension of Metrorail to Tysons.

Last month, the commission voted to cut the 10-to-12-year project in half. If Macerich decides to build the second half of the project, it will have to go through the approval process again.

The rezoning request passed on an 8-0 vote, with three abstentions and one absence.


Third murder charge added in crime spree

An escaped jail inmate who triggered a manhunt that paralyzed the Virginia Tech campus has been indicted on a third capital murder charge in the slayings of two persons during the August crime spree.

William Morva, 24, was indicted Tuesday by a Montgomery County grand jury in the Aug. 20 shooting death of Derrick McFarland, 32, a security guard at a hospital where a jail officer had taken Morva for treatment of an injury.

Morva was indicted in October on two capital murder charges. One was in the shooting death of Montgomery County Sheriff’s Cpl. Eric Sutphin, 40, and the other accused him of killing two persons in less than three years.

Police said Morva overpowered a sheriff’s deputy while at Montgomery Regional Hospital, stole his pistol and used it to shoot Mr. McFarland.

In that shooting, he was indicted Tuesday on charges of capital murder, use of a firearm in commission of a felony, escaping with force and assault and battery of a law-enforcement officer.

Morva is accused of shooting Cpl. Sutphin the next day near the university campus as the deputy participated in a search for the escaped prisoner.

Morva’s brother, Michael Morva, was indicted Tuesday on a charge of conspiring to help a prisoner escape. He faces a trial in March.


Two men sentenced in identity-theft scheme

Two Richmond men will serve prison time for an identity-theft scheme.

Aaron Robinson, 31, was sentenced this week to nine years in prison, and Vernon Warren, 33, was sentenced to 7 years, federal prosecutors say. The men also were ordered to pay more than $561,000 in restitution.

Both men pleaded guilty in September to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. They admitted taking bank checks — many stolen from the mail — and making them payable to a variety of payees.

Robinson and Warren had associates use false IDs to pose as the payees.

The two had associates cash the checks at branches of at least 28 banks from New Jersey to Florida.


Parish priest charged with stealing $600,000

A Roman Catholic priest has been accused of embezzling $600,000 from two rural parishes, leaving even the prosecutor stunned by the accusation.

The Rev. Rodney L. Rodis appeared in Louisa Circuit Court yesterday and had his bail reduced from $100,000 to $10,000. The Philippine national also agreed to surrender his passport.

“It has come as a great shock to folks in the community, and I include myself in that,” Louisa Commonwealth’s Attorney R. Don Short said. “It’s someone I’ve known in the community for 10 years or more as the Catholic priest. He is held in a high level of esteem — he had a following; people liked him.”

An indictment accuses Father Rodis of stealing the money between September 2001 and October 2006.

Mr. Short said he could not confirm the $600,000 figure provided by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Richmond. “It’s a considerable amount,” he said.

Father Rodis, who spent 13 years at St. Jude Catholic Church in Mineral and Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Bumpass before retiring for medical reasons in May, was charged with one count of embezzlement after a review of church records revealed multiple instances of theft, officials said.

Church officials said the theft came to light after a person sought to confirm a $1,000 donation had been received. When the money couldn’t be found in financial records, officials became suspicious.


Police search river for escaped inmate

The search resumed yesterday for a man who escaped custody from Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital and ran into the Roanoke River on Tuesday night.

Virginia State Police divers were searching the river for Pierre Lamont Carter, 25, who ran from the emergency room and into the river.

A Roanoke police officer swam in after Carter and grabbed him, but the officer lost his hold after both went underwater. The officer was treated for hypothermia.

Relatives said Carter suffers from schizophrenia and was hospitalized Tuesday evening under an emergency custody order requested by his mother.



Man robbed at gunpoint, then given a kiss

A man told police that he was robbed at gunpoint and tied up before getting a “kiss of death” from one of the robbers.

Melvin McCardell Jr., 75, of Conowingo, told police that a man bussed him on the cheek Monday before fleeing with the keys to his pickup, the Cecil Whig reported.

“I tried to talk him out of the truck,” Mr. McCardell said. “I said, ‘That’s my baby.’ ”

The pickup was equipped with global positioning system technology, and the company was able to pinpoint its location — 35 miles away in Baltimore — within an hour. Baltimore police found the truck and arrested Robert P. Burris, 29, of Aberdeen, and Loren Jennifer Love, 26, of Darlington.

Mr. Burris is charged with armed robbery, robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, assault, false imprisonment, burglary and theft. Miss Love, who once dated Mr. McCardell’s grandson, was charged with robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, burglary and theft.

Mr. McCardell said he encountered the pair Monday inside his son’s home in Perryville. When he stepped outside to call police, they left.

Mr. McCardell went to his home in Conowingo, where he found the pair in the basement. Mr. McCardell said Mr. Burris told him that he didn’t want to hurt him, but he stole cash and the pickup’s keys before tying Mr. McCardell to a bed with a bathrobe belt.

And then kissed him on the cheek and fled.

Mr. McCardell managed to free himself and call police.

Mr. Burris and Miss Love remained jailed yesterday.


Two sickened by infant botulism

Two cases of infant botulism have been reported at the Army post since October, a spokesman said yesterday.

One infant, who was diagnosed Oct. 6, has recovered. The second, who was diagnosed late last month, is hospitalized at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Fort Meade spokesman Travis Edwards said.

Both infants were younger than 6 months when they were diagnosed, he said. About 6,000 people live on the installation.

Infant botulism is caused by ingesting clostridium botulinum bacteria found naturally in soils and in some contaminated food products, said Lt. Col. Sharon Cole-Wainwright, chief of preventative medicine at Fort Meade.

Officials placed hay on a dirt lot at the base to reduce the spread of dust, Col. Edwards said, and the installation commander went door-to-door handing out fact sheets about infant botulism.


Courthouse disrupted by Gitmo protest

Some business at the federal courthouse was postponed yesterday after U.S. marshals arrested dozens of protesters who were singing and waving signs inside the building.

About 100 protesters, wearing orange shirts, called for the release of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The protesters — who had a permit for a demonstration outside the courthouse — sang and chanted as they were led away.

Some protesters hung signs from railings on the second floor of the courthouse, but officials promptly took them down.

Chief Judge Thomas F. Hogan canceled an afternoon hearing, and attorneys in other courtrooms said other hearings also were postponed.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide