One man is dead and a Fair Lakes woman is hospitalized after a shooting last week in the woman's home. And charged with one count of murder in connection with the tragedy is Anthony Lee Burdis, 38, of 13296 Leafcrest Lane, Apt. 201-C in Chantilly.
FAIRFAX COUNTY police have not released the identity of the 37-year-old woman or provided any details of her current medical condition. But the man killed was John M. Shirley, 53, of Annandale Road in Falls Church, and police say both were shot in the upper body.
The shooting occurred last Thursday, Nov. 3, around 10:26 p.m. in The Gates of Fair Lakes condominiums, just off the Fair Lakes Parkway. Police responded to the 12700 block of Fair Crest Court after several neighbors reported hearing gunshots.
"I just can't believe how someone could grab a gun and shoot someone," said Ditter Leon, who lives in the unit above the woman. "It's just crazy."
Police are calling the incident "domestic related" and, according to police spokeswoman Mary Mulrenan, "The shooter used to be involved with the female victim, and the homicide victim is a current friend of hers."
Mulrenan said Shirley was also stabbed in his upper body, as well as shot — noting that it's "unusual" for a victim to sustain both types of injuries at once. However, she added, "The cause of death was shooting."
The woman was not stabbed, but was Medevaced to Inova Fairfax Hospital in critical condition as a result of her life-threatening injuries. Shirley was already dead when police arrived.
Leon's lived there since 1999 and said it's normally a "very peaceful, safe" community. But when he got home that night, around 11:30 p.m., he saw unmarked police cars parked on a nearby street. And when he turned onto Fair Crest Court, he said, "I saw the ambulances, firefighters and a lot of police. That's when I knew something had happened."
AND THERE, on the sidewalk in front of his building, just outside the woman's home, was Shirley. "The door was open, the light was on and the guy was laying on the ground, almost like in a fetal position," said Leon. "He was face down, with his head toward the street."
He said other neighbors heard yelling and arguing coming from the woman's home, followed by a scream. Then, he said, pointing to drops of Shirley's blood still on the sidewalk the next day, "It escalated to that."
"At first, I didn't know he was dead," said Leon. "It just looked like a pile of clothes on the ground. He's a big guy, but he was all balled up." Leon had often seen Shirley in the neighborhood and said he "seemed like a decent guy and always dressed well."
He said the woman has a teen-age son who didn't live with her. He was also saddened to learn she'd been wounded so badly. "She's very nice," he said. "She's one of the few neighbors who say hi. Wow, I can't believe she got shot; I knew this woman."
Leon also noted that, a couple weeks earlier, his wife had come home late at night and was unnerved to find a black man just standing in the open stairwell next to the unit where the shooting took place. She had to climb those stairs to reach their own condo, he said, and she "got scared" when she saw a stranger lurking there.
"We don't have any black people in our building and she didn't know who he was or why he was there," explained Leon. "But maybe he was stalking the woman or checking out where she lived."
AFTER THE two people were shot, said Mulrenan, police began searching the area for the shooter, by cruiser and helicopter. She said an officer saw a man "acting suspicious, sneaking around and hiding" in the vicinity of the Fair Lakes Shopping Center, up the street from where the crime occurred. Then, said Mulrenan, "A witness pointed him out and we found him behind the Target [department store]."
Burdis is being held without bond in the Adult Detention Center, and police say further charges are possible. He has a Dec. 14 court date.
Although the front of the woman's home looks like others in her neighborhood, the rear of it tells another story. A door leads into the den from the small back porch, and someone had removed the screen from the lower window closest to that door and smashed the glass of that window to reach in and unlock the door.
Nothing looks amiss in the den. Atop a wooden coffee table by the couch are partially burned votive candles in a wire holder, a copy of "Essence" magazine and an envelope from an insurance company. A built-in bookcase next to the fireplace contains novels, a book on home improvement and "The Complete Works of Shakespeare." But in the living room, the top of a floor lamp hangs askew and debris is strewn across the floor.
SIMILARLY, the neighborhood itself looks like any other residential area in the fall. Leaves have turned red and orange on the trees, yellow and orange flowers adorn the yards and pumpkins decorate the front porches. But a murder took place there, just a week ago, and the residents are still stunned.
"I've lived here since 1999, and nothing like this has ever happened, so it's shocking," said a neighbor named Elizabeth. "It's just very disturbing." Mary Shaw, who's lived there three years, was also amazed. "It's normally quiet and peaceful here," she said.
Others said the shootings weren't any indication that it's a bad neighborhood, but that "things like this can happen anywhere." Resident Caroline Keenan didn't find out about the violence so near her home until Saturday — and then gasped when she heard someone had been killed.
"Oh, my God," she said. "That is so horrible." Boyfriend Andy Taylor said they were home at the time and heard "all the cops and the helicopters. It sounded like a police chase, but we didn't know it was quite so close. It's such a nice neighborhood for something so terrible to happen."