Portsmouth firefighter charged with attempted capital murder

Zachariah R. Burd. Credit: Portsmouth Police Department.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — 10 On Your Side has confirmed a Portsmouth firefighter is facing several charges, including attempted capital murder, following a four-hour standoff.

Police said the emergency call came in at 7:45 p.m Monday for a man possibly armed inside a house on Gillis Road, between Dahlgren Avenue and Joulett Street.

According to court documents, medics were called to the house after 33-year-old Zachariah Burd mentioned thoughts of suicide on his Facebook page, which has since been taken down. The documents show medics heard a gunshot from inside the home after arriving on scene. Police set up a perimeter around the home, and attempted to make contact with him.

Burd became “extremely irate” and refused to leave his home, according to the documents. People living near the scene were asked, but not forced, to evacuate from their homes.

“The phone rang, and it was a cal from the city of Portsmouth. They told us there was an active shooter, and to shelter in place, and that is what we did,” says neighbor Ralph Strickland.

At 9:19 p.m., officers heard a second gun shot come from the home. One officer ducked behind a next door neighbors home for cover. Burd allegedly fired a third shot that ricochets just above an officer’s head, but would end up in the yard across the street.

“They were telling him to come on out, ain’t nobody going to harm you. You are going to be okay, and he came out of the house, and that’s when everybody ran over to him,” says neighbor Rose Olson.

Police took Burd into custody just after 12:15 a.m. During the day police came back trying to find that bullet fragment that nearly hit the officer. A K-9 eventually sniffs it out and the bullet fragment was taken as evidence

Burd is a six-year veteran of the fire department, and works at fire station 10. He is described as a good guy with good performance. There is great surprise that what happened Monday night into Tuesday morning ever happened at all.

Burd refused to do any interview, he was denied a court appointed attorney, and will be back in court on September 22. He is being charged with attempted capital murder, use of a firearm in commission of felony and reckless handling of a firearm.

The Portsmouth Fire interim-chief refused to give Burd’s current employment status as did the City of Portsmouth’s City Manager’s office.