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Anger counselor ordered held without bond in gun flap

A Fairfax County anger management counselor, arrested last month for allegedly pointing a gun at two U.S. deputy marshals, has been ordered to stay in jail until his trial by a federal magistrate judge in Alexandria.

Jose L. Avila, 57, was arrested near his home in Annandale on Jan. 25, after he allegedly pulled his sport-utility vehicle near two marshals and aimed a handgun at them. They ducked, then chased Avila and arrested him, according to an affidavit the marshals filed in federal court.

Avila is a licensed professional counselor and marriage therapist, works at Northern Virginia Family Service and was a reliable resource for Fairfax juvenile and domestic relations court judges who wanted to refer parties to pre- or post-trial counseling, his lawyer said. He is a former Catholic priest, a single parent who also lives with his ailing mother, and has a bachelor's and two master's degree, his lawyer William A. Odio said.

And, Odio noted, "Mr. Avila vigorously denies ever having a gun in his hands."

But he did have a loaded 9mm pistol in his car, with hollow point bullets, when the marshals arrested him. And in detention hearings before U.S. Magistrate Judge T. Rawles Jones Jr., one of the marshals testified that he had never been so fearful as when he stared down the barrel of Avila's gun.

Odio noted that Avila has no criminal record at all, volunteers in his neighborhood watch group, and is highly respected in the social work community of Northern Virginia. Odio submitted nearly two dozen character reference letters on Avila's behalf, all testifying to his helpful nature and willingness to serve others.

Jones didn't buy it. Odio asked for more time for a psychological evaluation, which the judge granted, and which later indicated Avila had no mental problems. But Jones still ordered Avila held without bond on Tuesday, ruling he was both a flight risk and a danger to the community, court records show.

Odio said he was disappointed by the ruling, but said he was preparing for Avila to be indicted and for an upcoming trial. He acknowledged Avila had his gun in his SUV, for which he had a concealed weapons permit because of possible anger from the people he counsels, but said he never pointed it at the marshals
-- Tom Jackman

By Tom Jackman  |  February 26, 2010; 6:15 AM ET
Categories:  Fairfax , From the Courthouse , Tom Jackman , Updates  
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Were these deputy marshals dressed in street clothes? Sounds like a huge misunderstanding... from what I gather from the scarce details of this article.

Posted by: steampunk | February 26, 2010 9:30 AM | Report abuse

What did the marshals do to provoke him?

Posted by: blasmaic | February 28, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

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