Anger Counselor Charged With Pulling Gun in Parking Flap

Tom Jackman, Washington Post, February 5, 2010

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Jose L. Avila, 57, was ordered held without bond pending a detention hearing Friday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria. He has been held in the Fairfax jail since Jan. 25, when he apparently picked the wrong place and time to complain about thoughtless parking.

Avila’s attorney, William A. Odio, said Avila had worked for many years at the nonprofit Center for Multicultural Human Services in Falls Church, which merged with Northern Virginia Family Service in 2008.

{snip} Judges and lawyers often referred people to Avila for pretrial or probationary counseling, particularly because he is bilingual.

Avila allegedly encountered two deputy U.S. marshals outside an apartment complex on Americana Drive, near Little River Turnpike and the Capital Beltway, at 9 a.m. Jan. 25. In a court affidavit, Deputy Marshal Floriano Whitwell said he and another marshal, Matthew M. Dumas, had been conducting a fugitive investigation and parked their sport-utility vehicles in designated parking places on Americana Drive.

Dumas got out of his vehicle and was standing at the window of Whitwell’s vehicle when a white Jeep Cherokee drove up and the driver honked his horn, Whitwell wrote. Dumas, with a marshals service “badge clearly visible hanging from his neck,” motioned for the Cherokee to continue past. But then the Cherokee turned around and came back, Whitwell wrote.

The driver appeared to be motioning to Dumas, so the marshal moved closer. Then, Whitwell wrote, Dumas “noticed that Avila was aiming a gun at him. Avila was holding the gun and resting his hand on the top of the door with the driver’s window completely open,” the affidavit states.

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The marshals identified themselves and tried to arrest Avila, but he was “uncooperative” and “continued to resist arrest and refused to give me his hand which was under his body,” Whitwell wrote. {snip}

Found on Avila’s seat, Whitwell alleges, was a 9mm Astra A-90 pistol loaded with 14 hollow-point bullets. Once out of his vehicle, Avila reportedly apologized profusely and said he had “never done anything like this before,” the affidavit said. When he appeared with the marshals before a Fairfax magistrate, he claimed that he had pointed a cellphone, not a gun, at the marshals, Whitwell wrote.

The magistrate charged Avila with attempted malicious assault, brandishing a firearm, using a firearm in a felony and resisting arrest. Fairfax prosecutors dismissed those charges Wednesday after U.S. Magistrate Ivan D. Davis issued a warrant for assault on a federal officer, and Avila was transferred to federal custody Thursday.

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