Police still have no motive behind the hostage situation Monday night that last four hours and closed Loudoun County Parkway during rush hour. The standoff at the Flagstaff Plaza Exxon gas station in Ashburn ended shortly after 8 p.m., March 18, when a member of the Sheriff's Emergency Response Team (SERT) fatally wounded the man who had held the station's female cashier hostage.
After speaking with the victim and other witness, investigators learned Tuesday that Aleksandrin Yordanov Bozhilov, 30, of Winchester, was filling up at the station, located off just south of the Dulles Greenway, at around 4:40 p.m. When Bozhilov entered the station's store to pay for his gas there was confusion when the cashier told him he needed to remove the gas pump from his car before his total could be rung up. When Bozhilov did not return to his car, another employee walked outside and removed the pump for him and the cashier told him the total. After repeating the total several times, the suspect jumped over the counter and grabbed the cashier.
"There was a deputy working a traffic incident on Loudoun County Parkway when [Bozhilov] pulled up to the station," Sheriff Stephen O. Simpson said. "We don't know why he would do this with an officer right across the street."
Bozhilov had no apparent ties to either the victim or anyone else in the store. The Sheriff's Office can find no reason that he was even in the Ashburn area.
AFTER GRABBING THE cashier, Boshilov picked up an object that other customers thought was a gun, causing them to flee from the store, believing that it was a robbery. An off-duty Pentagon police officer arrived at the station at the time of the incident and contacted authorities. He also warned other customers approaching the store of the situation.
Personnel from the Sheriff's Office Crisis Negotiations Unit, SERT, Criminal Investigations Division, Field Operations and command staff arrived on the scene and began to attempt to contact the suspect. Authorities could see Bozhilov inside talking on a cell phone, but the suspect would not respond to their attempts to talk with him. He continuously hung up the phone without speaking or refused to answer questions.
Authorities tried to reach Bozhilov by throwing a phone with a secure line in front of the store so that no one else could listen in on their conversation, but Bozhilov never took the phone.
"We kept asking him if there was someone we could get that he would talk to, but he never responded," Simpson said. "He never said anything, never made demands or said why he was doing this."
When Bozhilov did speak, Simpson characterized his language as "very irrational" with a "violent tone of voice." In one of his last communications, the suspect threatened to take the life of the cashier and his own.
THE SUSPECT left the store once prior to the shooting. He had the cashier in his grasp, but did not have a weapon at the time, authorities said. It was at approximately 8:15 p.m. that Bozhilov exited the store with a pair of scissors at the cashier's throat. Deputies could see injuries to the victim's neck and hands and blood on her shirt.
"That was when we realized that this was not going to be resolved by talking," Simpson said. "If he wanted to take his own life that would be tragic enough, but we couldn't let him take her with him."
To prevent anything else happening to the victim, Deputy First Class Brian Sayre discharged one round from his gun, hitting the suspect, who was pronounced dead on the scene. Sayre, a seven-year veteran of the Sheriff's Office and member of SERT since 2001 is on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, an act Simpson called routine.
The female victim was transported to a hospital and treated for non-life threatening lacerations to her hands and neck.
THE SHERIFF'S OFFICE is continuing its investigation into the incident, speaking with Bozhilov's family, friends and co-workers and trying to understand what prompted his actions.
"Obviously this wasn't a robbery," Simpson said. "Although there have been some domestic issues in his life the past week, we don't know what motivated him to do this."