CRIME

Garbarino family remembers slain Fairfax County police officer

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This Sunday, it will be five years since the Sully police station shooting. On that day, Detective Vicky Armel and Officer Michael Garbarino became the first Fairfax county police officers killed in the line of duty.

The officers' families haven't spoken on TV until Wednesday. Fairfax County bureau chief Gail Pennybacker spoke with Officer Garbarino's widow and daughter for the first time.

The afternoon of may 8, 2006, changed Sue Garbarino and her daughters’ lives forever. That day a Centreville teenager opened fire in the back parking lot of the sully district station. Before officers killed shooter Michael Kennedy, Detective Vicky Armel had been killed and Officer Michael Garbarino was severely injured.

Nine days after the shooting, Garbarino died. Sue Garbarino says in the days leading up to her husband's death, she had an ominous feeling that she looks now as a preparation for tragedy.

“I do believe to this day that it was Mike’s time,” she said. She said just a week before the shooting, her husband told her this: “He said if God decides to take him tomorrow, he'd be fine with that.”

Natalie, only ten at the time of her father's death, has her father's well-known smile. Her sister Katie was 14 at the time. About the shooter, Natalie says, “my initial reaction to Michael Kennedy was confusion but after that I just started to feel bad for him.”

The Garbarinos have received an outpouring from officers and the community. They returned it to those who need it. “By concentrating on their pain made us forgot our pain, which in turn helped healing a lot,” Sue said.

“I realized I needed to get up. I needed to smile because there are people who needed to see that I was okay,” her daughter Natalie added.

There are memorials to Detective Armel and Officer Garbarino at police headquarters and at the Sully station. Instead of a flame, there's a fountain. The Garbarinos say it’s an appropriate symbol of renewal and comfort.

“We're not bitter or angry because that won't help us move forward,” Natalie said.

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