Crime and Public Safety

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Salem Police Chief Mike Crawley courtesy photo

Salem Police Chief, Michael Crawley, announced his retirement from the force this morning, effective June 1,
2024. Crawley has served Salem’s citizens as a treasured member of the Police Department and the community for nearly 25 years.  “It has been an absolute honor to work alongside the many men and women who have served in the Salem Police Department,” Crawley said. “While the world has changed drastically in the past few decades the commitment to serve and protect our Salem community has remained strong.”

Crawley, 50, began working with the Salem Police Department in December 1999 as a Patrol Officer and was voted Officer of The Year by his peers just three years into his Salem law enforcement career. After completing field service as a Patrol Officer, he was promoted to the rank of Senior Police Officer and transferred to the Detective Division in 2004 where he was assigned to the Special Investigation Unit.

“I truly need to thank the late Judge George Harris for seeing something in me many years ago and
encouraging me to better myself through law enforcement,” Crawley said. “His encouragement helped me
land my first position in Salem at a time when it was very difficult to get a job with the department.”

“When Mike left his Sergeant’s position in Vinton to take a patrol position in Salem, I thought he was crazy,
but It turns out that he knew what he was doing,” said Kevin Boggess, former Salem City Manager and Vinton
Town Manager. “He moved to a great community where he and his family have thrived, and he worked his
way through the ranks to lead a department that he loves.”

In 2006, Crawley was transferred to General Investigator, and he rose to the rank of Sergeant in that Division.
He also served as the Services Division Sergeant and Patrol Division Sergeant before being appointed to the
rank of Major by Chief Tim Guthrie in 2014. In January of 2016, he became Salem first Black Police Chief
when Boggess named him Guthrie’s successor.

Update 3pM: Charges are pending against a William Byrd High School student after a gun was found in a car, according to Roanoke County Police

Update from Roanoke County Public Schools at 9:55 am: The William Byrd campus is no longer in secure mode.  The school has resumed normal operations.  All after-school activities will take place as scheduled. A student left a weapon in a vehicle on the William Byrd campus.  As soon as other students learned of this, they alerted the school administration and the school resource officer. The Roanoke County Police Department quickly responded, secured the vehicle in question and began to investigate.  The police department determined there was no threat directed at the William Byrd campus. We commend the students who reported this to school administration and the SRO.  We also thank the Roanoke County Police department for their rapid response.  We remind students and parents to report any concerns to school administration or the police. Parents, please speak with your children about the importance of not bringing inappropriate items to school, either in backpacks or vehicles.

From Roanoke County Public Schools after 9:00 am 2/29/24: The William Byrd campus has been secured due to a police investigation on the campus.  Students and staff are safe and are continuing instruction inside.  Parents – please DO NOT come to the school currently – access is restricted. As we have updates we will keep you informed.

Roanoke County Police say a pedestrian is dead after an accident on US 220 around 10 p.m. last night when a tractor-trailer traveling southbound on Franklin Road in southwest Roanoke County struck a pedestrian who was walking in a southbound travel lane near the Clearbrook Wal-Mart. Amanda Graninger was pronounced deceased on the scene. Police say the driver of the truck was not injured; alcohol and drugs may have played a role in the crash.

Statement From Superintendent of Roanoke City Public Schools Verletta White: The Roanoke Police Department investigated a credible threat, and we have been notified that they have arrested and charged an adult in connection with making the threats. Please visit www.rcps.info to read the police department’s full statement. We appreciate their diligence in investigating all threats and for keeping us informed throughout their investigation. We will continue to work with them as they investigate additional “copycat” threats. Always know that the safety and security of our students and staff is my top priority and, certainly, that of our school division. I want to thank everyone who spoke up and reported these threats to the police and our 24/7 tipline, SpeakUp for Safety. This allowed the police to quickly investigate and find the person responsible. In times of crisis, we know you want answers and so do we, and I want to thank you for your patience, as the police investigated this matter. It is important to note that there are times when we are limited in what we can share so we do not compromise the police department’s investigation. For instance, when we had numerous threats reported throughout the night and as police learned more, we had to pivot and make the decision to close schools Thursday morning.
To that end, several threats have come in since the arrest and we need additional time to work with police to determine the credibility of these threats. Therefore, schools will be closed again  Friday, February 23rd. 12-month staff should report on time. I am asking all parents to talk with your children about the consequences of making threats, which may include their arrest. Tomorrow, we will do our due diligence in working with the police on this matter so we can be fully ready to welcome everyone to school on Monday in a safe and welcoming learning environment. Thank you for all you do, and for partnering with us to keep our schools safe

Stephen Karl Johnson

A Roanoke man, whose online threats posted this week to a Snapchat group used by students at Patrick Henry High School caused public schools in Roanoke to close Thursday, was arrested on a federal criminal complaint.

Stephen Karl Johnson, 35, was arrestedThursday after an investigation by the City of Roanoke Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Johnson was federally charged with one count of communicating in interstate commerce a threat to injure another person.

“This defendant caused fear and emotional distress to the parents and students of the Roanoke City Public School system and for those actions he has been justly charged,” United States Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh said today. “If anyone communicates a threat to our schools, our public servants, or our public institutions in the Western District of Virginia, we will seek to hold them accountable under federal law. I am grateful to Chief Booth, the Roanoke City Police Department, and the FBI for their diligence in bringing a peaceful end to this situation.”

“The FBI will vigorously investigate and bring to justice those individuals who threaten to do harm to our communities,” said Stanley M. Meador, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Richmond Division. “We will continue working with our local law enforcement partners to keep our communities safe.”

According to court documents, on the evening of February 21, 2024, several threatening messages were posted to a Snapchat group used by Patrick Henry High School students. Those messages included but were not limited to:

“Im done bro fr on some real sh** I’m pulling up to school with a ak and any kid I see that’s in my sight I shooting fr.”

In order to join the Snapchat group reserved for Patrick Henry High School students, users must register with a Gmail addresses. Investigators were able to trace the threatening messages to a Gmail address used by the defendant.

The FBI and the City of Roanoke Police Department are investigating the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee Brett is prosecuting the case.

(from Roanoke PD) On February 22, 2024 at approximately 10:00 a.m., Roanoke Police were notified of a person with a gunshot wound in the 2400 block of Hanover Ave NW. Responding officers located two adult women victims outside a residence with what appeared to be non-life-threatening gunshot wounds. Both women were transported to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital by Roanoke Fire-EMS.

Officers quickly located and detained two adult men. Preliminary investigation indicates this altercation started with a verbal confrontation that escalated to the shooting. All parties involved are known to one another and this appears to be an isolated incident. Charges are pending,

(from Roanoke PD) n February 20, 2024 at approximately 8:10 p.m., Roanoke Police were notified by the City of Roanoke E-911 Center of reports of shots fired in the 700 block of 29th Street NW. As officers were responding to the scene, they were advised that a person with a gunshot wound had been located inside a vehicle in the area of 10th Street and Orange Ave NW. Responding officers found a juvenile male with what appeared to be a non-life-threatening gunshot wound in the backseat of the vehicle. Roanoke Fire-EMS transported the teen to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital for treatment.

As officers were continuing their investigation, officers located two teenage males who had been involved in the shooting on 29th Street NW. Preliminary investigation indicates that several teenagers were involved in a brief physical altercation at a residence in the 700 block of 29th Street NW that led to the shooting. Officers did recover a firearm at the residence. All involved parties have been identified and this appears to be an isolated incident.

No arrests have been made regarding this investigation

(update) The victim of this incident has been identified as Uhura U. Willis, 27 of Roanoke.

 

(from Roanoke PD) On February 17, 2024 at approximately 4:55 a.m., Roanoke Police were notified by the City of Roanoke E-911 Center of a person with a gunshot wound in the 400 block of Patton Avenue NW. Responding officers located an adult male victim with what appeared to be critical gunshot wounds lying in a wooded area on Patton Ave NW. Officers immediately began rendering aid until Roanoke Fire-EMS arrived. Roanoke Fire-EMS personnel pronounced the man deceased on scene.

Details about what led to the shooting are limited at this time. Officers located evidence of a shooting in the 400 block of Patton Ave NW; however, no suspects were located on scene and no arrests have been made. Preliminary investigation indicates the suspect is traveling in a maroon 2015 Jeep Cherokee Latitude with license plates TSB7817. Detectives and Officers are actively searching for this vehicle and its occupants.

If anyone sees this vehicle they are asked to call Roanoke Police. Do not attempt to stop, apprehend, or detain the Jeep or occupants. There are no further details that can be shared at this time and this is an ongoing homicide investigation. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call (540)344-8500 and share what you know.

MGN

(from Roanoke PD) On February 5, 2024 at approximately 9:15 p.m., Roanoke Police were notified by the City of Roanoke E-911 Center of an assault in the 1500 block of 9th Street SE. Responding officers located an adult male victim inside of a residence with what appeared to be a critical stab wound. Officers immediately rendered aid until Roanoke Fire-EMS personnel arrived. The man was transported to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital for treatment. 54 year old Vernon Stover of Roanoke, is being held in the Roanoke Adult Detention Center.

(from Roanoke PD) Roanoke Police, Star City Drug and Violent Crime Task Force seize large amount of fentanyl from Roanoke home.

Officers with the Star City Drug and Violent Crime Task Force conducted a search warrant on a residence in the 1100 block of 22nd Street NW on February 1, 2024. After months of investigation, officers had identified the resident of this address as a dangerous drug dealer and suspected there were large amounts of narcotics inside the home.

Officers entered the house and located large quantities of what was presumed to be loose fentanyl. They immediately left and secured the residence to wait for additional resources to safely search the home and collect evidence. Once the safety equipment arrived, officers entered the home and located large amounts of narcotics, firearms, and U.S. Currency. The home was subsequently deemed unsafe for habitation by city code.

In total, officers seized:

— 917 grams of Fentanyl (just over two pounds)

— 575 grams of Methamphetamine (just over one pound)

— 15 grams of Crack Cocaine

— Four Firearms

— $5,333 in U.S. Currency

The suspect was located in a vehicle in on Panorama Ave NW by Roanoke Police Officers and the Star City Drug and Violent Crime Task Force. Officers attempted to stop the suspect from fleeing; the suspect drove around officers, striking a Roanoke Police vehicle. The vehicle left the scene and officers began to canvass the area, eventually locating the vehicle. The subject then exited the vehicle and attempted to flee on foot. After a brief foot pursuit, the suspect was taken into custody without incident. No Roanoke Police Officers were injured during this arrest.

Marcello L. Steelman, 33 of Roanoke, was arrested and charged with three counts of Possession with Intent to Distribute Narcotics, one county of Hit and Run of an Occupied Vehicle, one count of Hit and Run to Property, one count of Felony Eluding, and one count of Felon in Possession of Ammunition. Steelman is currently being held at the Roanoke City Adult Detention Center with no bond. Additional charges are pending.

“Our interdiction officers and the Star City Drug and Violent Crime Task Force were monitoring this area due to its ongoing issues involving violence and narcotics. This outcome shows that we are working in the areas that we need to be, and I’m proud of the excellent work these officers did last night and early this morning,” said Roanoke Police Chief Scott Booth. “Investigations like these highlight the impact a focused approach has on these neighborhoods. It also embraces the message that First Lady of Virginia, Susan Youngkin, shared with us here in Roanoke earlier this week – It Only Takes One. One arrest like this can stop hundreds, if not thousands, of fentanyl overdoses, which can save lives. Thank you to all of the partners who work with us on this task force and these investigations to get us closer to a drug free city.”

The Star City Drug and Violent Crime Task Force is comprised of the officers from Virginia State Police, the Town of Vinton Police Department, the City of Salem Police Department, the Roanoke County Police Department, and the Roanoke Police Department.

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