Police in Fairfax County, Virginia, lifted a shelter-in-place order in the Bailey's Crossroads area several hours after someone opened fire into a shopping center parking lot Friday morning. No injuries were reported, but at least two cars were hit.
Large bullet holes in two vehicles parked side-by-side combined with witnesses who said they thought gunshots came from the high rise across the street spurred police to shut down the area and search the Skyline Towers for a potential shooter. Reverse 911 calls informed the building's residents to shelter in place.
The shelter in place was lifted about 5 p.m. after investigators were able to more thoroughly examine the bullet evidence. A forensic investigation determined the rounds came from a pistol that wasn't fired from high up.
"We are confident in saying now that the rounds that have been recovered, the bullets that have been recovered, are not high-caliber rifle rounds. They are pistol rounds. We no longer believe the rounds came from an elevated position," Fairfax police Lt. Daniel Spital said.
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Police said the two vehicles shot were unoccupied at the time of the shooting, and neither owner knew of a reason someone would shoot at their car.
Police are looking for whoever shot the cars.
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Families ran for safety, some businesses locked down, and teenagers on their school lunch break spent hours inside a Starbucks, telling their parents and friends by text that they loved them.
“They came in and told everyone, ‘Go to the back, stay to the side. Someone has a rifle and is shooting from one of the buildings directly in front of the Starbucks,’” one teen girl said.
“I was sending my ‘I love you’ texts to my parents and all my friends and stuff. You just never think something that bad is going to happen to you until it does," another girl said.
In the tower, officers searched for a potential shooter, going floor by floor. On the ground, officers were “behind cover in any place where there is any kind of line of sight from where we believe the rounds may have come from,” Spital said.
Bailey's Crossroads Shooting Timeline
Two people were outside a car near a Starbucks in the shopping center in the 3500 block of S. Jefferson Street when they heard glass from the car breaking, Spital said. They heard two more rounds hit the car, and they took cover. They called 911 at about 11:15 a.m.
By noon, Leesburg Pike (Route 7) was closed in the area around Bailey's Crossroads in Falls Church, police said. South Jefferson Street also was closed, along with anywhere where additional shots potentially could strike people.
The area includes a number of stores and restaurants.
Chopper4 reporter Brad Freitas said emergency vehicles could be seen flooding into the area, including several police cars near food trucks. Only limited, non-emergency traffic could be seen moving, and few pedestrians were out.
Officers found what they believe were high-powered rifle rounds in the car, Spital said. A dispatcher told responders: "Attention all units, all units on scene of the weapon, make sure you have substantial cover; it's confirmed that the damage came from a high-powered rifle."
Shell casings since recovered from the scene, however, revealed the shots came from a handgun.
No additional shots have been reported to police.
“There have been no shots fired since police’s arrival. So, it is not an active shooter event at this time,” Spital said.
Police do not have surveillance video of the shooting as of 5:20 p.m. Friday, but they said they are following up on active leads.
With major roads shut down, a typical 10-minute wait for a bus took an hour.
The lockdown was lifted about 5 p.m.
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Anyone with potentially relevant information is asked to contact police.