Hybla Valley

Woman Taken into Custody After 34-Hour Standoff on Richmond Highway

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An armed woman was taken into custody at midnight Thursday after a standoff with police on Richmond Highway (Route 1) in the Hybla Valley area that shut down the road for more than 30 hours, Fairfax County police said.

As Brittany Copelin emerged from the black Jeep, bystanders cheered, and one shouted, “We love you!” Copelin walked over to police and surrendered, video from the scene shows.

Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis said crisis negotiators and clinicians were in constant contact with Copelin, who was experiencing a mental health crisis.

"She was in the car by herself. She was certainly a danger to herself and others, but no one else was with her in the car. So, there was no immediate opportunity for her to cause harm to someone else," Davis said at a news conference Thursday afternoon.

Copelin left the scene in an ambulance. After medics assessed her, police took Copelin to jail and charged her with abduction and firearm charges.

For the safety of the public, part of Richmond Highway – the major artery through the area – was shut down late Tuesday morning. All lanes of Richmond Highway were blocked between Lockheed Boulevard and Boswell Avenue until early Thursday.

"The reason why it took so long is because we wanted to get to the best possible outcome for a person that was in a mental health crisis because that's what this was," Davis said.

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Davis said Copelin is being held without bond and mental health services are available to her at the jail.

A woman was taken into police custody early Thursday after a 36-hour standoff that shut down Route 1 in Fairfax County. Supervisor Rodney Lusk talks about how a trained clinician may have helped deescalate the crisis. News4’s Juliana Valencia reports.

Police confirmed the standoff was related to the missing person case involving Copelin's ex-girlfriend, 25-year-old Lauren Kingsbury, from Laurel, Maryland. Kingsbury had not been seen since Friday, March 24 before she was found safe earlier Tuesday in Fairfax County — not long before the standoff began.

Doorbell surveillance video captured Kingsbury leaving her home with Copelin on Friday, Laurel police said.

Then, on Tuesday, Kingsbury managed to get away and called police to tell them that Copelin had kidnapped her, police said. At that point, she and Copelin were in the area of Richmond Highway in Fairfax County.

“When we responded there, there was a woman who said she had been abducted, and the suspect vehicle had just fled. So we began searching the area, and that’s when one of our officers found the vehicle, and it led to a pursuit and ended here,” Lt. James Curry said. “She did display a firearm to the officers during that first traffic stop, and that’s led to the response that you see here.”

Kingsbury's parents gave an update to members of the media during a brief Thursday morning press conference, calling the four days that their daughter was missing an "exhausting and long nightmare."

"She always answers her texts. She answers everything," Lauren's father Ricardo Kingsbury said.

"Her not answering was out of the norm," he said, voice shaking with emotion before adding that it was "the worst four days of my life."

"Not knowing if my daughter was breathing, sleeping, eating as I was," mom Tracy Goins said, was "excruciating."

Lauren Kingsbury's parents said that, with their daughter found safe, they are now on the long road to recovering from the nightmare.

Laurel police charged Copelin with kidnapping, home invasion, first-degree assault, second-degree assault, third-degree burglary, firearm use in the commission of a felony, loaded handgun on person and false imprisonment. 

The barricade has been going on for 36 hours, and the woman's family said authorities requested messages from them as a de-escalation tactic.

During the standoff on Route 1, Copelin's uncle confirmed that she was posting to social media from inside the SUV, and family members sent her audio messages encouraging her to get out of the vehicle.

This is a developing story. Refresh for updates.

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