Herndon Hostage Situation, House Fire, Suspect Killed

Herndon Hostage Situation, House Fire, Suspect Killed

Hostage situation results in house fire and officer-involved shooting death of suspect.

The police department used both less-lethal and lethal force at the same time to take the suspect down and rescue the hostage from the burning home.

The police department used both less-lethal and lethal force at the same time to take the suspect down and rescue the hostage from the burning home. Photo courtesy of the Fairfax County Police Department

The Fairfax County police shot and killed Mohammad Azim Doudzai, 32, just outside his home in Herndon on Monday afternoon after a domestic argument spiraled out of control.

According to Police Chief Edwin Roessler, who briefed media at the scene around 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 16, Doudzai had shot two of his brothers, 37 and 23, and had taken his roommate, a 29-year-old man, hostage in a townhome at 13316 Covered Wagon Lane, outside the Town of Herndon. Doudzai then set the townhome on fire while they were both inside.

The victims were being treated at a nearby hospital. The police department has not yet identified the victims or the officers involved in the incident.

The officer who deployed lethal force is a 16-year veteran of the police department who was working in the Special Operations Division, according to the department.

A rough timeline of the incident was provided to the public on Jan. 16 and Jan. 17.

On Monday, Jan. 16, at 2:41 p.m., officers from the Reston District Police Station responded to the townhome after receiving a report that Doudzai had shot his two brothers, who fled and transported themselves to the hospital. On Jan. 17, the department added that Doudzai’s 28-year-old girlfriend was also present during the incident.

According to the department, Doudzai got into an argument with his girlfriend, which prompted her to call two of his brothers. They came over to talk to him and the argument escalated. Doudzai then shot his two brothers.

The officers formed a barricade around the house and started negotiating with Doudzai. During negotiations, Doudzai set multiple fires inside the home and there were multiple reports of what sounded like gunfire.

“We had an active shooter event and a fire in the home,” Roessler said. “At the same time, we had a hostage that was in the home that called 911 and said he could not breathe.”

That is when SWAT officers from the county’s Special Operations Division reported to the scene. They made several attempts to make the suspect exit the townhome voluntarily.

Doudzai exited the house and went back in, according to Roessler.

He then came out of the townhome a second time while carrying a knife and advanced toward the officers, according to Roessler.

This prompted the officers to use less lethal force, including a taser and foam bullets. However, the police also shot the suspect with a lethal firearm.

“Our investigation will determine the sequence [of the lethal and non-lethal force from officers], but when you view the video … the suspect was actively wielding what appears to be a knife and was a continuing threat to the safety of not only the officers and the community but the hostage that was in the home when the home was on fire, so we had to take action,” he said.

Once Doudzai was shot, medical care was given to him and officers retrieved the hostage.

“Officers then immediately rendered medical aid,” Roessler said. “As those officers were rendering medical aid to the suspect, other officers successfully evacuated the hostage from the home.”

The Fairfax Fire and Rescue Department then extinguished the fire while the suspect was rushed to a local hospital, where he died from his injuries.

“I’m real grateful to the community here that no one else was further harmed,” Roessler said. “The bravery of the men and women of the Fairfax County Police Department truly saved the lives of not only community members, but of the hostage that was in harm’s way.”

The police department is currently investigating the incident and will provide further details to the public.

The officer who used lethal force has been placed on routine administrative leave while the investigation is conducted, according to the department.

Detectives recovered a gun and a knife from the home as part of this investigation, according to the department.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted late last year to establish both an Independent Police Auditor and a Civilian Review Panel as independent oversight to the police, following the recommendations of the Ad Hoc Police Practices Review Commission. The Board is in the process of hiring an auditor and appointing the nine-member panel.

The scope of the independent auditor’s work includes reviewing all cases in which police use of force results in serious injury or death, and this incident appears likely be the first such case.