Off-duty Pentagon official shoots two people he thought were stealing a caravril 8, 2021
Two people have died after an off-duty Pentagon Force Protection Agency Police Officer opened fire when he allegedly saw them trying to steal a car.
According to a press release from the Takoma Park Police Department, “officers responded to multiple reports of shots fired in the parking lot area of the Takoma Overlook Condominiums,” just northeast of DC around 5am on Wednesday.
They were approached at the scene by the Pentagon officer who told them that he had seen “what he thought was a car being broken into. He engaged the suspects who failed to follow his direction. The suspects attempted to flee in a vehicle at which time the officer discharged his service weapon”.
Both of the individuals who were shot later died in hospital. This is the second time an off-duty officer from the Pentagon Force Protection Agency is involved in a shooting in the DC area in recent weeks, The Washington Post reported.
Officials said that the off-duty Pentagon officer encountered at least three people in the parking lot. The families of the two victims are expected to be identified once their next of kin have been notified.
Takoma Park police spokesperson Cathy Plevy told The Washington Post that many questions are still under investigation. She didn’t specify if the officer fired his weapon as the individuals were entering their car or as they were driving away.
Other questions as yet unaddressed include whether the officer felt threatened and if the two people who were shot were also armed.
Ms Plevy also didn’t confirm whether the officer’s bullets hit the individuals who later died from their wounds or if they could have been shot by someone else. She added that police are investigating if anyone else in the parking lot was armed or discharged a weapon.
Katie Strauss of the Silver Spring Justice Coalition, which has been advocating for police reform in Montgomery County, told The Post that the group is asking for the release of 911 calls, radio communications, and any video footage from the officers called to the scene.
She said: “The police information is insufficient and not transparent … If there is more information, it should be shared immediately, including all officer communications, and body and dashcam footage, when they arrived on-scene after the shooting.”
The Pentagon officer, whose name has not been released, is on administrative leave, NBC Washington reported.
According to WUSA9, the officer has been employed at the agency since July 2019. A Department of Defense spokeswoman told the outlet that the officer has previously been a federal police officer from 2009 to 2019 and that he has also served as an Army military policeman and spent time in the Air Force as a combat crewman.
The Department of Defense said the officer is “current on all use of force and firearms qualifications”.
It added that regulation from 2014 limits the authority of off-duty officers to a “serious breach of the peace (when violence is being committed or immediately threatened) including assault and threats to kill, injure or maim”.
Pentagon officers can also fire at vehicles “when an employee has a reasonable basis to believe that the vehicle poses an immediate threat of death or serious bodily harm to the employee or others,” according to a regulation from 2008.