An Alexandria police officer fired her weapon in Old Town Alexandria after a man who was hitting passing cars along a busy street struck her in the head with a large pipe Wednesday morning, police say. No one was hit by the gunfire.
Clyde Eugene Reynolds, 51, of no fixed address, has been charged with malicious wounding of a police officer, authorities said Wednesday afternoon.
Alexandria police are calling the incident a "brutal attack" against one of their own.
The officer, a 34-year-old who was not identified immediately, was the first officer to arrive at King and St. Asaph streets about 6:45 a.m. Several people had reported that a man was striking passing vehicles with a hard object.
A witness said the man had a brick in one hand and a pipe in the other.
"She was the first one there and she was immediately attacked by the subject," Alexandria Police Deputy Chief Shahram Fard said.
The officer ordered him to stop, but the suspect did not listen, a witness said.
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Reynolds hit the officer in the head with a large pipe, authorities said, giving her a serious head injury.
"She jumped out of her car, and he came toward her and he swung and missed. But then he connected on the second time," said the witness, a man who asked not to be identified by News4.
Fearing for her life, the officer fired her gun once, police said. She fired into the air, not at the man, the witness said.
"If she wanted to shoot him, she could've shot him, point blank," he said.
No one was struck, but police believe a bullet hit a nearby vehicle.
Other officers were able to restrain Reynolds and take him into custody.
The officer, who has been on the job for a year, was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. She is expected to be OK.
"She's pretty shaken up. I was there visiting with her," Fard said. "She's going to obviously survive her injuries but they were serious in nature."
Streets in the area, just blocks from the Potomac River and popular tourist sites, were closed during the aftermath of the incident.
Anyone who saw what happened or who may have seen Reynolds earlier is asked to call Detective King at 703-746-6689.
Per department policy, the officer will be placed on administrative leave.
Reynolds is being held without bond.