According to court testimony from a two-day trial this week, Keegan Zacharie had an elaborate plan to steal a gun from a King Street business. In discussions and instant messages to his girlfriend, he called the plan “Project FA,” short for firearm.
“He had no intention of hurting anyone,” his girlfriend testified on Monday, adding that he wanted a gun to protect himself. “I guess I went along with it because I loved him.”
Zacharie, who would be a senior at T.C. Williams High School this year, was an outstanding student. He had a 4.18 grade point average, and he was recently named a National Merit Commended Student.
“Project FA” fell apart when Zacharie was approached by an Alexandria Police detective who thought he was acting suspiciously. When more officers arrived, Zacharie used a knife to wound three Alexandria police officers before escaping north toward Washington Street. After a two-hour search, Zacharie was found hiding in an Old Town garage.
His girlfriend testified that she gave the knife to Zacharie as a birthday present, adding that he usually carried weapons when he wasn’t at school.
“He has been haunted by the need to protect himself and his family,” said Jonathan Shapiro, his attorney. “I think the evidence will show that he panicked.”
“The notion that the defendant panicked and acted without deliberate thought or specific intent at the time he drew his weapon and cut these officers is belied by the deliberate nature of the act itself,” said Commonwealth’s Attorney S. Randolph Sengel. “More than anything else, the mechanism of injury renders suspect the defendant’s claim that injury to these officers was accidental or unintended.”
After each side presented its case, Judge Donald Haddock found Zacharie guilty of three counts of malicious wounding and one count of a burglary tool. A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for March, and Zacharie is facing a maximum sentence of 120 years.