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Fairfax County police officer shoots, kills coyote after attack

A Fairfax County police officer shot and killed a coyote Sunday in the area of Carrleigh Parkway in Springfield, Va. after it attacked a total of 4 people and 2 dogs

SPRINGFIELD, Va. — A Fairfax County police officer shot and killed a coyote to end an attack on Sunday in the area of Carrleigh Parkway in Springfield, Va. 

On Sunday, officers with the Fairfax County Police Department (FCPD) formed a search group to locate the coyote after receiving reports that the animal had bitten three people and two dogs at Lake Accotink Park.

FCPD said one of its officers was bitten by the coyote after the animal snuck up behind him. He shot the animal to end the attack. The coyote was found dead nearby.

The officer was taken to a nearby hospital to be treated for his wounds. All of the people that were attacked are expected to recover. 

The animal is being tested for rabies, although animal control officers say that they are almost certain the coyote was rabid due to strange behavior witnessed by neighbors like Jenny Squire who was gardening when she first spotted what she thought to be a mangy fox. She says the coyote looked disoriented and was biting the tires of cars passing by.

"He started to cross the road and attacked the driver's side wheel and fender, the front, he went after it. Then he wandered again, the guy did not move, he kept his truck there and then he came again and attacked the passenger side," Squire said in an interview with WUSA9.

Residents in the Springfield neighborhoods surrounding Lake Accotink Park say that despite the coyote being killed, they still do not feel safe. 

At another entrance to the park, Kristine Maloney caught video of what she thinks was a rabid raccoon eight days before the coyote was finally located. The veterinary technician says she initially thought the animal had been struck by a car.

"Watching it, you could tell it was not hit by a car, it was definitely sick. It was having massive, massive problems just standing up right, it was falling over and it kept face planting with his face into the asphalt," Maloney said to WUSA9. 

Maloney and neighbors called animal control, but they say the officer said he was unable to locate the animal after hiding in a heavily overgrown yard. 

"My concern was and is, are there more out there, is there more disease prevalent in the park or in the neighborhood that is spreading one animal to another."

Coyotes are not uncommon to see in Virginia, but being bitten by one, like what happened at the Lake Accotink Park, is rare.

Residents in the surrounding area told WUSA9 that the news of the aggressive animal spread on social media and neighborhood watch platforms.

"We have a dog walking group in the neighborhood, someone had heard about it so they messaged everyone to be cautious, keep an eye out, make sure we are not going into the trail essentially," said Ana Politi who thinks her husband might have seen the coyote in their own backyard just a couple of nights ago. 

"Usually we have foxes behind the house but our dog started to alarm us while we were out there. He saw something that was a little bigger than our dog just running across the hill behind our house into the forest."

Despite the park closure, people were seen walking and biking the park trails. 

"There's still a lot of people on the path, I mean I was just biking from my house. I am on my way to work. There were none of those signs on the path," a biker who identified himself as Will told WUSA9.  He said he had no idea the park was closed because he saw no signage.  

Caution tape has been placed at entrances of the 493-acre park, and some residents placed handwritten signs to warn community members. 

Credit: Rafael Sanchez-Cruz


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