Man trespassing in Southeast D.C. Metro tunnel shot, killed by police officer

Crime tape blocks off entrance to the Potomac Avenue Metro station after the shooting. (Photo: WJLA/Jay Korff)

WASHINGTON (AP/WJLA) - A Metro Transit Police officer fatally shot a "partially clothed" man that officials said was found trespassing in a D.C. subway tunnel; police were investigating Friday but did not specify what kind of threat the man posed.

The Metrorail Operations Control Center reported an "unauthorized person" on the tracks Thursday night outside of the Potomac Avenue station, about two stops from the U.S. Capitol, just before 9 p.m.

Metro officers responded. A female officer encountered the man about 400 feet from the station along the westbound tracks between Potomac Avenue and the RFK Stadium stop, Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said.

"Shots were fired by the officer using a department-issued service weapon" and the man was pronounced dead at the scene, Stessel said. "It is not yet known how the man entered the tunnel, what he was doing there, why, etc."

Officials declined to say Friday whether the man was armed or how he may have threatened the police officer. Investigators identified him Friday as 35-year-old Bobby Gross.

No officers were injured in the shooting, said Metro Transit Police spokesman Mike Tolbert. It was not clear whether the officer used any nonlethal force against the man prior to shooting. All Metro police officers carry pepper spray and an impact weapon, such as a baton or nightstick, in addition to a firearm, Stessel said.

A D.C. police homicide unit was leading the investigation into the shooting Friday, though police released few details.

Police spokesman Lt. Sean Conboy said investigators would release little information because the shooting was being treated as a criminal investigation. "It's a crime until it's not a crime," he added.

Metro said it was reviewing available surveillance video and would turn over footage to the U.S. Attorney's office and D.C. police for their review of the use of deadly force. The FBI's Washington field office said Friday that it was not involved in the probe.

The officer involved was placed on routine paid administrative leave during the investigation. Her identity was not released, but officials said she was a 10-year veteran of the MTPD.

The Metro station, was closed after the shooting, and trains on the Orange, Blue and Silver lines that normally stop there bypassed the station. But the station reopened at its usual time Friday morning.

Metro Transit Police officers have been involved in fatal shootings before, though this was only the second use of deadly force in the past decade, Stessel said. It is also unusual for a shooting to unfold inside a subway tunnel.

In 2012, a Metro Transit Police detective fatally shot a man in a Lanham, Md., neighborhood while investigating an earlier abduction attempt at a D.C. bus stop. Police said Chester J. Crestwell Jr., 44, fired at the detective several times and the detective returned fire. Crestwell died at the scene, and a handgun was found there. The detective wasn't hurt.

In 2003, a D.C. man was fatally shot after he fled on foot from a stolen car and struggled with an officer. Prior to that shooting, the last fatal shooting by a Metro transit officer was in 1999.

The Metro Transit Police Department has 490 officers and is unique in that it has authority in three jurisdictions: the District of Columbia and parts of Maryland and Virginia. Officers provide law enforcement on the system's rail and bus networks.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off