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Man shoots 4 in Frederick County, Virginia rest stop 'domestic dispute'

Police say that the suspect fired at a woman and the people who tried to intervene. Now, the suspect is dead.

FREDERICK COUNTY, Va. — Four people were hospitalized after a disturbing shooting Sunday morning in Fredrick County, Virginia, that police say was the result of a domestic dispute that prompted others to intervene.

Virginia State Police say they responded to the rest area on I-81 near mile marker 320 around 9:30 a.m. for calls about the shooting. 

Once on scene, police determined the shooting occurred as a result of a domestic dispute. 

"When the dispute turned physical, several individuals who happened to be at the Rest Area tried to intervene for the woman's safety," Virginia State Police confirmed via press release.

They said that the suspect, 34-year-old Cesar Juarez Avila from Brownsville, Texas, then began firing at the woman and the people who tried to help. The woman and three men were shot in total.

Avila then fled the area driving a Chevrolet Malibu, police said.

Three victims were transported by ambulance to nearby hospitals while a fourth was flown by a medivac to Fairfax Inova Hospital. 

“There was heightened feeling with the people I was talking to because they didn’t know where this guy was because at that point in time we didn’t know why he did it if it was some random occurrence, we didn’t know," Jason Funk who lives in Frederick County said.

Police said investigators quickly obtained information on Avila and began their search to locate him. 

Shortly after 12 p.m., a Frederick County Sheriff's Deputy saw the Chevrolet Malibu traveling on Airport Road in Frederick County. Police say that when the sheriff's deputy and state police pulled in behind the Chevrolet, it sped away and kicked off a short pursuit. Law enforcement positioned their vehicles around the suspect's car and forced it to a stop.

Police then say they saw shots being fired inside the Malibu. When troopers approached the car, they located Avila in the driver's seat with a gunshot wound.

"No law enforcement discharged their weapons during the course of the incident," Virginia State Police said via press release.

Avila was transported to Winchester Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. 

“It was pretty intense there for a while because you don’t think about something like that happening until it happens. It was a little too close," Funk said. 

"It hits home for me because I’m in the transportation business," Funk said. "Myself, my guys, my crews, sometimes we frequent those rest stops so it gives me cold chills thinking about it that this can happen anywhere. Frederick County, Virginia, nothing super spectacular-Hollywood-esque about our community, and this happened here so it just puts things in perspective of how crazy the world is right now, and anything can happen anywhere.”

On Monday Virginia State Police released where the victims involved in Sunday's shooting were from, all were from out of state.

The woman who was shot was 37, and also from Brownsville, Texas, according to police.

The three men that came to the woman's aid was a 33-year-old male from Huntersville, N.C  who was taken to Winchester Medical Center, a 46-year-old male from Jamestown, Tenn. who was flown to Fairfax Inova Hospital, and a 58-year-old from Lake Ronkonkoma, N.Y.  who was transported to Winchester Medical Center, according to a VSP spokesperson.

Anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to call the Virginia State Police at 540-829-7766 or email questions@vsp.virginia.gov.

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