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Murder-Suicide Rocks McLean

Friends and neighbors stunned William Lash III takes his own life after killing his son.

A father and son are dead, after a tragic murder-suicide in a quiet residential community in McLean. What started as a fight between a husband and a wife, ended in the killing of their 12-year-old son and suicide of the father, according to police.

On Thursday, July 13, just before 10 p.m., Fairfax County Police were summoned to a domestic dispute at the Lash home on Pathfinder Lane. According to police, Sharon Zackula, the wife of William Lash III, called 911 after she fled their home following a violent fight with her husband. Once Zackula was outside of the residence, police said that Lash barricaded himself inside a first floor bedroom in the home, with his son, William Lash IV, 12.

Shortly after police arrived at 10 p.m., two gunshots were heard from inside the house. A tactical team and hostage negotiators came to the scene, and police tried with no success to make contact with William Lash III and his son.

"None of the neighbors were evacuated, but they were advised by police of the situation," said Officer Richard Henry, a public information officer with the Fairfax County Police.

After several hours with no communication from either the boy or his father, police entered the residence at 3:50 a.m. and discovered their bodies. Both William Lash III and William Lash IV had been shot in the chest with a shotgun that was found nearby.

The Fairfax County Public Schools public affairs office confirmed that William Lash IV had finished his sixth grade year at Haycock Elementary School. Police said there had been no previous record of domestic disputes at Lash and Zackula's home.

Kyaw Tha, a retired banker who lives a few doors down from the Lash family, did not know them personally, but was shocked when he heard what transpired.

"Nothing like this has ever happened here before," said Tha. "It's so strange and so sad."

Another neighbor who would only identify herself as Vivian, said she also did not know the Lashes personally, but did see them in passing from time to time for several years.

"It's just really, really sad," said Vivian, who has lived on Pathfinder Lane since 1964. "This is usually a quite, peaceful neighborhood."

FROM 2001 to 2005, William Lash III served as Assistant Secretary for Market Access and Compliance in the U.S. Department of Commerce. Lash also chaired the Commerce Department's Iraq and Afghanistan Reconstruction Task Forces, and served as the U.S. Economic Commissioner to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

In the fall of 2005 Lash returned to teach at George Mason University Law School in Arlington, where he had worked as a professor of law in 1994. Before joining George Mason's law faculty in 1994, Lash taught law at St. Louis University and Western New England College. He was also a senior associate in the litigation department of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson in Washington D.C., and counsel to the U.S. International Trade Commission.

Lash earned his bachelor's degree from Yale University in 1982, and his law degree from Harvard University in 1985. Daniel D. Polsby, dean of George Mason's law school declined to comment on Lash.