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Va. homicide linked to road rage case

Tom Jackman

A neighborhood dispute over a new traffic speed hump that apparently led to a June fistfight allegedly led a Fairfax County man to invade his neighbor's home and shoot him to death Sunday night, Fairfax police said.

Stephen A. Carr, 48, lived in the 6800 block of Field Master Drive in the Burke area. He frequently expressed concern about traffic speeding through his quiet neighborhood, in part to cut through to the Fairfax County Parkway.

So Carr, working through County Supervisor Pat Herrity's office, had a speed bump installed almost in front of his house.

Patton. (Fairfax Police)

This enraged some drivers, neighbors said, and some would honk their horns as they drove past Carr's house. Police said David A. Patton, 44, was particularly upset, and in June he was arrested after allegedly assaulting Carr outside his home.

Patton's trial for misdemeanor assault was set for Thursday. But on Sunday night, police said, Patton burst into Carr's house with a gun while Carr and his girlfriend were watching television shortly before 10 p.m.

Patton allegedly ordered Carr and his girlfriend to the floor and tied their hands with zip ties, according to a search warrant affidavit written by Fairfax homicide Detective Robert A. Bond. But when Carr tried to get out of his ties, a struggle ensued, and Patton shot and killed Carr, police said.

The girlfriend ran out of the two-story house off Sydenstricker Road, but Patton reportedly followed her and forced her back inside, Bond wrote.

While they were inside, the affidavit states, a man who also lives in the house with Carr arrived home. Patton allegedly ordered him to lie on the ground, but then was momentarily distracted, and the roommate ran out of the house with Patton in pursuit, Bond wrote.

Meanwhile, Carr's girlfriend ran upstairs and dialed 911. Police responded quickly and sealed off the neighborhood. When they closed in, they found Patton in the backyard of Carr's house carrying a backpack containing zip ties and a revolver.

Patton was charged with second-degree murder. He is being held in the Fairfax jail without bond.

Police searched Patton's townhouse, a short distance from Carr's home on Conservation Way, early Monday. The results of the search were not available. A woman who answered the door at the townhouse Monday morning declined to comment.

Carr was well-liked in the community, his next-door neighbor Willis Palmer said. "He brought my paper to my door every morning," Palmer said. "He helped people with blowing leaves and cleaning their gutters. He was very active around here."

But because of his activism over the speed hump, Palmer said, Carr was also a source of controversy. "People would come by at night and honk their horn," Palmer said. "I told him he should be careful. He said he could take care of whatever anyone did to him."

Carr went to a magistrate and filled out a criminal complaint against Patton after a June incident. He claimed that after a "traffic altercation" occurred, Patton confronted him "face to face."

Carr wrote that he was backing his vehicle into his driveway, and that Patton "struck my back window, side windows, then reached in my passenger window and grabbed my arm."

Carr wrote that he and Patton both called 911, and that Patton asked for an ambulance because he claimed he was hit by Patton's vehicle.

Herrity said Carr had begun working for a speed hump in front of his house in May 2008, a process which involves neighborhood consent and traffic engineering studies. The speed hump was approved in January of this year, county records show, and installed soon after.

"He was a guy who really cared about his community," Herrity said. He "cared about the kids and their safety." Herrity noted that Field Master Drive is near Orange Hunt Elementary School.

"It's a shame this sort of thing happened," Herrity said. He said Carr worked at length with his staff to slow traffic on his street, and was known as a "very nice gentleman."

This item has been updated since it was first published.

-- Tom Jackman

By Tom Jackman  |  September 13, 2010; 2:10 PM ET
Categories:  Fairfax , Homicide , Tom Jackman , Updates  
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2nd degree murder charge? And the guy had plastic ties in his backpack? I guess he just wanted to talk to them......too bad the police didn't take him out.

Posted by: JBN59 | September 13, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

I hate speed humps as much as anyone, but this is extreme.

Throw away the key on this clown.

Posted by: ceefer66 | September 13, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Why 2nd degree murder? No one forced him to take a gun and shoot the man! It appears he planned to do just that.

Posted by: DecafDrinker | September 13, 2010 6:02 PM | Report abuse

all this over a single speed hump?

well, this vicious lunatic will see plenty of "humps" where he's headed.

Posted by: potomacfever00 | September 13, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Wow, the guy parks in the man's driveway to confront him over a speed bump. This incident leads to him attacking and assaulting the man. Now as this guy is about to go to court for assault charges he enters the house with a gun and ties and only faces 2nd degree murder? how is it not 1st degree? This guy had INTENT to kill this man and whoever was there!

how could a sane person be killing mad over a speed bump? It's bad enough he was fighting mad in the 1st place.

Posted by: oknow1 | September 13, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

You want to know how this happened? Just look at the photo of the guy and insert the sound of a cukcoo clock..

Posted by: tommc1 | September 13, 2010 6:28 PM | Report abuse

2nd degree? Let's see, he held three people against their will with zip ties that he'd brought along with a loaded, concealed handgun in a backpack then shot one of his victims to death. What part of any of this wasn't pre-meditated? I guess prosecutors know that some sympathetic kook on the jury will have had a bad experience with a speed hump and not want to convict on 1st degree.

Posted by: Nghbrhdwatch | September 13, 2010 6:44 PM | Report abuse

To echo several posters: Yeah, that was my question, too. Why not first degree murder?

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | September 13, 2010 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Me too. WPost, please find out for us why this isn't first degree murder. Did the guy plea bargain already?

Posted by: Whazzis | September 13, 2010 7:25 PM | Report abuse

I had a similar reaction, but must note that he has been charged with 2nd degree murder. That allows the police to hold Patton while investigating details. The charges can, and hopefully will, be upgraded to 1st degree murder.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | September 13, 2010 7:26 PM | Report abuse

The killing may have occurred in the heat of the struggle, but it took place incident to false imprisonment. If false imprisonment is a felony in Virginia, then a killing that occurs in the course of that false imprisonment is first degree murder. I have the same question everybody else does: why is he only being charged with second degree?

Posted by: Rob_ | September 13, 2010 7:29 PM | Report abuse

Normally, I would say it's two sides to every story, however, after reading this, over a speed hump, yeah, the guys should get plenty of humps!!! Mr. Carr, God has your back!!!

Posted by: wonder4real | September 13, 2010 7:30 PM | Report abuse

I thought the same thing about the 2nd degree murder charge but then when I re read it, the story says that "a struggle ensued" and then Patton shot Carr. I'm guessing it's the struggle that got him 2nd degree. Sigh... this is just horribly sad - all over a dag on speed hump. Come on people!

Posted by: too_through | September 13, 2010 7:34 PM | Report abuse

In his right eye, he looks angry. In his left eye, he looks scared.

What about kidnapping charges?

Posted by: GeneralTurgidson | September 13, 2010 7:49 PM | Report abuse

I believe the 2nd degree murder charge is just to get him charged and locked up in a timely manner.

Hopefully, the Commonwealth's Attorney will change the charge to 1st degree when he is arraigned.

Posted by: mortified469 | September 13, 2010 7:56 PM | Report abuse

I don't get it. A speed bump?

Posted by: RepealObamacareNow | September 13, 2010 8:39 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: msdooby1 | September 13, 2010 8:41 PM | Report abuse

This is murder in the first degree. There should be no plea bargains. The gunman should get the death penalty. Being a lunatic is not an excuse. Steve Carr, who I knew, was a fine man, and an excellent air traffic controller. Over the years, he kept thousands of people safe as they travelled the airways of the U.S.

Why wasn't the gunman prosecuted by the Commonwealth's Attorney back in June when the crap first started? If the CA would have prosecuted this matter after the initial physical confrontation, and oral threat, and put the idiot in jail, a senseless murder like this would not have occurred. Steve, you were a great human being and friend. You protected thousands (if not millions)of servicemen and travellers and pilots over the years.

I hope the cowardly dog that slew you gets the death penalty.

Posted by: Farmgate1 | September 13, 2010 8:58 PM | Report abuse

I'm no expert, but I think that in Virginia, murder is presumed to be second degree. The arrest warrant, which is just a preliminary charging document, might not have specified the degree, and hence the charge is presumed to be second degree murder. After the preliminary hearing, the CA's Office can present the case to the grand jury as first degree.

Just a guess.

Posted by: Eagle1211 | September 13, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse

Extreme and crazy--but why do drivers think they are entitled to speed through residential neighborhoods to shorten their commutes? All the people who drove by and honked because they were "enraged" should back off and slow down.

Posted by: loco71 | September 13, 2010 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Steve was my nieghbor, He did many things in the community that we all benifitted from, When it would snow he was the first man to offer his services in transporting doctors and nurses to and from local hospitals. He cared about the saftey of our children, and when one would fall down and scrape a knee he was there. Steve always had a kind word and a smile. Our world needs more men like him. His selflessness will be missed. Its so sad that we have people like David Patton to screw it up. Our entire comunity is in shock and many families have been destroyed over this senseless act.

Posted by: wengertools | September 13, 2010 10:01 PM | Report abuse

I am sick of the white on white crime! Its got to stop. Can't we all just get along?

Posted by: matrox | September 13, 2010 11:06 PM | Report abuse

Hi, this is Tom Jackman, the reporter on this story. On the issue of second degree murder: Fairfax prosecutors and magistrates routinely issue this charge when it is being done quickly. As some of the posters here correctly said, they can upgrade it to first-degree murder at the grand jury stage, when they know more.
This shooting happened late on a Sunday night, and by the time the police were ready to get a warrant it was probably past midnight. At that point, they may not have had all the background to file murder one, so why bother. The longtime prosecutor, Robert Horan, always said that a murder charge in Virginia is automatically considered second-degree unless otherwise specified. The jury will decide.


Posted by: TomJackman | September 13, 2010 11:43 PM | Report abuse

As a neighbor, I can testify as to why this speed bump was so hotly debated and puzzled over by many people in the Orange Hunt neighborhood, and often viewed as unnecessary: It is on a rather steep hill in a residential zone, and I know quite a few people who've missed the signs for it (rather small and easy to not see) and proceeded to whack their car on it pretty hard. It's especially bad at night. It's a hazard to road safety with a rather obscure purpose. Yes, some people have a tendency to bomb down Field Master Dr at a few miles per hour above the speed limit, but the speed bump was an odd and impractical measure. For those of you who are still confused, try driving down that road and see if you feel that the speed bump is necessary.

A case of murder over the matter is still absolutely inexcusable, however, and my utmost sympathy goes out to Carr's family.

Posted by: greg59 | September 14, 2010 8:41 AM | Report abuse

This appears to be a tale of two cities, as it were.

Some folks have said that Carr was a nice, giving guy once you got to know him. Others have said he was a grating jackazz who got under others skin.

The more cynical amongst us would say 'that's what you get' while others would say 'under no circumstances should this have happened over a speed hump or because of his perceived 'attitude'.

Fact is, a person was assaulted, then murdered IN THEIR HOME because someone simply did not like them.

Now, how many of us may have a person that doesn't like us? Would it be cool for them to assault and murder us because of it?

Just remember that the next time you irritate someone or someone irritates you. We've all been on both sides and murder is not the answer...

Posted by: kahlua87 | September 14, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

This has been a highly detailed story granted the available information at hand, but there really are, two sides to every story.

My family and I have known Carr for many years now. I'll never say that he deserved what happened, but I'm far from surprised.

In the years I've known Carr, he was notorious for walking along Fieldmaster and Conservation Drive looking for cars with dead-tags or dead inspection stickers; cars which he could call in to the FCPD.

He was notorious (I bore witness several times) for being a frequent restaurant goer who would mentally and emotionally break down nice servers merely trying to do their job - only for the sake of a free meal.

As far as the speed hump was concerned, the construction of it was far from being about cars speeding through/children. Prior to it even being built it was constructed to prevent his own car from being T-boned. As usual, a selfish interest.

As a reflection of character, Carr was not the guy to inflict physical pain on anyone; although he was more than capable. Rather than leading himself into potential law issues, he resorted to mental and emotional affliction. I still haven't decided which is worse in this case.

My mother and sister, during a time of financial crisis, had the "privilege" of being two of his tenants. During their renting period he was emotionally violent and extremely fascist.

In all of my experiences with Carr, he used the power of fear to achieve what he wanted.

I'm not denying that Patton was a complete nut-case. That fact is completely obvious. I suppose this is what happens when two wrongs come into contact with one another. To quote my mother, "live by the sword, and die by the sword."

I have, myself, prayed for Carr's soul, as well as those around him that did indeed love him. I did, however, find it necessary to put some false beliefs about Carr to rest.

Posted by: therearetwosides | September 14, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully almost nobody will read these later comments, but the above one with its character assassination is inexcusable. (Hopefully the Post will see fit to remove it, in which case this comment will no longer be needed.) It contains an incomprehensible account of the speed hump being sought for the murdered man's "selfish" interest in preventing his car from being "T-boned." I don't want to hear any attempt at presenting the "other side" for this story. There is no other side.

Posted by: kls1 | September 17, 2010 4:20 AM | Report abuse

The above post by therearetwosides should be removed. This is NOT the place of time to attack his character! I have known Steve for 28 years and for every attack on his character I can provide a dozen examples proving them wrong! Steve went to great lengths to help many people. Even housing a single mom and her daughter for free during a time of financial crisis! I can go on for days talking about the many ways and times he has been there for me and my family. He was a successful and accomplished man. The ATC community is shocked and will miss a good person.

This was a senseless and needless shame.

Posted by: addoms1 | September 17, 2010 9:59 PM | Report abuse

In response to kls1 and addoms1:


Character assassination? I was unaware that weighing fact against fact is unwarranted. During my post, I was more than sensitive. Not once did I slander Carr. All i presented was fact to allow other readers following this story to decide for themselves. But, I keep forgetting, most Americans such as yourself don't appreciate discourse. I highly doubt any credible news source will remove or even consider flagging posts based on evidence.

An incomprehensible account of the speed-hump? This sounds like mere opinion in my book. What's my source? Not only did I bear witness to conversation about his reasoning, but I heard it secondhand as well.

There's no other side of the story? Are you kidding me? This is the type of pseudo-logic that makes idiocy so rampant in this country; people not providing both sides of the story, weighing fact against fact. Let's hope that the next time you're in court the judge doesn't say that things aren't even black and white.


I'm not going to waste my time entertaining comments of my supposed "attacks of character." I've already detailed that enough. If facts are attacks on character, then slap me on the wrist and call me guilty.

I don't doubt that Steve was active in the community. Where are you getting your information saying that I think otherwise? Like I said, there are two sides to a story. On one end of the spectrum, Steve was active in the community, and on the other hand he managed to step on some toes.

Just because you have "a dozen examples" does not discredit my evidence of fact.

The mother and daughter, were, in fact, not housed "for free." They were legal tenants paying rent according to the Commonwealth of Virginia's Tenant/Landlord stature; stature that Carr did not follow on the grounds that: he did not provide a copy of a rental agreement (in fact, he refused to give a copy when my mother and I asked for a copy; demanded X-figure in terms of pay when he felt like it; demanded X-portion of utility bills paid without supplying evidence of requirements (a copy of a bill).

If you're asking for a healthy discourse, you're going to get one.

In no way have I broken any rules as far as posting is concerned. Fact does not equate to slander. If you disagree with my opinion, then tell me why it's wrong. Don't just refuse it for the sake of refusing it.


Posted by: therearetwosides | September 17, 2010 10:29 PM | Report abuse

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