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Council of Governments official found shot to death in Alexandria home

Tuesday - 11/12/2013, 7:03pm  ET

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The Alexandria house where Ronald Kirby was found fatally shot. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)

Friends remember Ron Kirby

WTOP's Megan Cloherty reports

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WASHINGTON - The 69-year-old man found shot to death in his Alexandria home Monday was a director with the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG).

Alexandria police say a relative found Ronald Kirby unconscious at his home in the 200 block of Elm Street in the Rosemont neighborhood. He was pronounced dead on the scene. It is not clear whether the relative who found Kirby was his wife.

Police say Kirby was seen Monday morning before the fatal shooting, which was Veterans Day, a federal holiday.

Some said they were "frightened" to hear about the killing in what they consider a safe neighborhood.

Police say they don't know if Kirby was targeted, and they have no suspects.

There is no reason for anyone in the neighborhood to feel unsafe, Alexandria Police Chief Earl Cook stressed at a Tuesday afternoon news conference. He says investigators do not yet know if Kirby was targeted.

Kirby was director of the Department of Transportation Planning for COG, WTOP has confirmed. Police identified Kirby as the victim and an autopsy confirmed he died from multiple gunshot wounds to his torso.

"We are as shocked as we are devastated," says Chuck Bean, executive director of COG.

On the COG website, the council is described as "an independent, nonprofit association where area leaders address regional issues affecting the District of Columbia, suburban Maryland and Northern Virginia." Its members include elected officials from more than 20 local governments, the Maryland and Virginia state legislatures, the D.C. Council and the U.S. Congress.

The Washington Business Journal reports Kirby was an Australian native, who joined COG in 1987. He had previously directed the Urban Institute's transportation program.

COG co-worker Gerald Miller first met Kirby at the Urban Institute in the '70s. He shared the news of his friend's death with colleagues.

"I think everyone is numb. People just can't deal with it. There's no where to process the information that he's gone and the circumstances about this death, it's just unbelievable," Miller says.

During his 26 years of service to the region, Kirby's major projects included the Wilson Bridge, the I-495 Express Lanes, the ICC corridor and studying the concept of telework and how it affected daily traffic patterns, colleagues say.

Kirby recruited Nicholas Ramfos, currently serving on the COG. Ramfos says Kirby was always thinking about how to improve existing transit systems.

"How can we improve Metrorail? How can we improve commuter rail? How can we get more folks to carpool and van pool," Ramfos says of Kirby's thinking.

He describes finding out about Kirby's death as a "punch in the gut."

COG officials issued the following statement regarding Kirby's death:

All of the officials and employees of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and the Transportation Planning Board are devastated by the loss of our colleague, Ron Kirby.

Dr. Kirby, one of the region's leading experts on transportation planning, was a key figure in all aspects of our work on regional planning and collaboration. He guided the work of the Transportation Planning Board for more than 26 years. His deep knowledge and wise counsel assisted local, state and national officials in reaching consensus on the major transportation issues over the years.

More importantly, he was a trusted colleague and a dear friend to all of us at the Council and his associates around the region. We extend our deepest sympathy to his family at this difficult time.

This is the fifth homicide in Alexandria this year, police say.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the Criminal Investigations Section of the Alexandria Police Department at 703-746-6711.

A map showing the area of the Alexandria home where Ronald Kirby was found fatally shot. (Google Maps)

WTOP's Megan Cloherty contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter.

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