FALLS CHURCH, Va. (WUSA) - The man who held police at bay for 28 hours on Monday and Tuesday, is 57-year-old James Rackowski, according to Falls Church Police. To get him to surrender, police played recorded messages from his family members and launched pepper spray into the house. Then they tazed him and took him into custody shortly before 9 p.m. Tuesday.
Police say Rackowski fired three shots with a handgun inside the home. He's being charged with discharging a firearm within a building.
The standoff and began Monday at 4 p.m. with police barricading the busy Hillwood Avenue for six blocks between Cherry and Roosevelt Streets. Traffic was a mess and some residents who couldn't get to their homes had to stay in hotel rooms.
Resident Ted Rowdybush thought the police response was "overblown for one guy." Others questioned the cost of having so many police officers and SWAT teams on standby for so long. Police and fire departments from Fairfax, Arlington and Alexandria were called in to help during the standoff.
But Chris Tignor, whose grandparents live on Hillwood, said "One guy could do a lot of damage. People could have died."
Police say Rackowski's sister told them her brother had doused himself with gasoline and was going to set himself and the house on fire. Their 95-year-old father was still inside. Two officers were able to rescue the father, while another officer talked to the suspect, who displayed a handgun and told him to stay back, Police say the officers inside smelled a strong odor of gasoline.
Falls Church Police Major Mary Gavin said, "The priority is preservation of life. The gentleman had indicted that he was in distress and that he possibly wanted to take his own life. And our goal was to make sure that didn't happen."
Neighbor Alexandra Roth knows James Rackowski, "He's a nice man, so something's going on that making him really, really desperate."
Neighbor Joan McGuire said, "I'm an old lady. He could have been my son. If he's mentally ill, it's not his fault."