Crime and Public Safety

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Roanoke City Police responded to an usually high number of gunshot incidents last weekend — four of them in all. No fatalities reported, but three people required hospital treatment. Police say in two cases, the victims are not cooperating. And in another, near Market Street and Campbell Avenue, close to 50 spent shell casings were recovered. And while no one was apparently hit, bullets struck several cars and at least one building.

NEWS RELEASE: The Roanoke Police Department is investigating several incidents involving gunfire that occurred over the weekend. While at this time we do not believe that any of these incidents are connected, we do wish to keep you and our community informed on major criminal investigations.

Incident 1:
On July 10, 2020 at around 11:30pm, Roanoke Police were notified that an adult male with gunshot wounds had walked into Carilion Roanoke Memorial for treatment. Officers responded to the hospital to speak with the man regarding this incident. His injuries appeared to be non-life threatening. Due to lack of evidence and the victim not cooperating with the investigation, officers have not yet been able to determine a crime scene for this incident. No arrests have been made at this time. This is an
ongoing investigation.

Incident 2:
On July 10, 2020 just before midnight, Roanoke Police were notified that a juvenile male with a gunshot wound had walked into Carilion Roanoke Memorial for treatment. Officers responded to the hospital to speak with the juvenile regarding this incident. His injuries appeared to be non-life threatening. Due to lack of evidence and the victim not cooperating with the investigation, officers have not yet been able to determine a crime scene for this incident. No arrests have been made at this time. This is an ongoing investigation.

Incident 3:
On July 11, 2020 at around 1:15pm, Roanoke Police were notified that an adult male with gunshot wounds had arrived via personal vehicle at Carilion Roanoke Memorial for treatment. Officers responded to the hospital to speak with the man regarding this incident. His injuries appeared to be non-life threatening. Witness statements indicated the shooting occurred in the 1200 block of Prillaman Drive NW. Officers did locate evidence of a shooting at that scene. No arrests have been made at this time. This is an ongoing investigation.

Incident 4:
On July 12, 2020 just after 2:00am, Roanoke Police were in the 200 block of Market Street SE observing a large crowd that was gathered in a parking lot. The crowd consisted of approximately 100 people. While officers were there, approximately 40-50 shots were fired from several individuals in the crowd. Officers called for extra units and began to head into the crowd to attempt to stop the threat and make sure no one had been hurt. The parking lot cleared out shortly after the shots were fired. At that time, two females began fighting with one another. In an effort to minimize injuries to both women, officers deployed pepper balls and broke up the fight. Other individuals pulled the women away, and those involved fled the scene before they could be identified. While officers were clearing the scene, they
collected approximately 50 spent cartridge casings from different caliber weapons, to include 9 mm and 7.62 rounds. Several cars and at least one building were struck by gunfire. No arrests have been made at this time regarding this incident. This is an ongoing investigation.

As always, anyone with information about these incidents is asked to call (540)344-8500 and share what they know. You can also text us at 274637; please begin the text with “RoanokePD” to ensure it’s properly sent. Both calls and texts can remain anonymous.

From Franklin County Sheriff’s Office: The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Communications Center received a 911 call at approximately 4:20am on July 14, 2020 alerting of shots fired. Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, along with Virginia State Police and Franklin County Public Safety, responded to a house in the 100 block of Salthouse Branch Road in the Henry Community of Franklin County,VA. Upon arrival, deputies found one deceased subject and an additional subject with gunshot wounds. The wounded subject was transported to the hospital for medical care.It is very early in the investigation however evidence at the scene indicates that the shooter fled before deputies arrived. Currently there is no known vehicle description or direction of travel. Citizens in the area are advised to be alert and report any suspicious activity to law enforcement immediately. Anyone with information related to this shooting is encouraged to contact Lt. Nolen at 540-483-6662.

GLOUCESTER, Va. (AP) — A Virginia man has been charged with second-degree murder and malicious wounding after police say he struck his wife with a hammer and smothered her infant daughter. The little girl died.

WAVY-TV reported Thursday that Dennis Chambers, 60, is facing charges in Gloucester County.

Citing a probable cause statement, the station reported that Chambers allegedly admitted to striking his 24-year-old wife in the head “between two and three times” and used a cotton “burping cloth” to smother her 5-month-old daughter.

Chambers was on the run from the police until he was caught Wednesday night in New Kent County.

The search began after authorities had checked on his wife and her daughter because they hadn’t been heard from for an unusual length of time.

Chambers was transferred from the jail in Gloucester to one in Warsaw because he’s charged with killing a child.

“He could be subject to attack from another inmate and our regional jail is much better suited to isolate him from other inmates,” Sheriff Darrell Warren said.

Gov. Ralph Northam

On the one-year anniversary of a special session he convened last summer to address gun violence – one gaveled down by Republican lawmakers who then controlled the General Assembly – Governor Northam today signed a number of new measures dealing with gun control issues. There are new state laws to require background checks on all gun sales, that establish an Extreme Risk Protective Order, reinstate Virginia’s one-handgun-a-month policy, mandate the reporting of lost and stolen firearms, and prevent children from accessing firearms.

7-9 Northam-Gun Bills-WEB

Virginia no longer has a backlog of untested rape test kits used to collect and test DNA samples from sexual assault victims, and advocates for those victims say it is about time. Attorney General Mark Herring says more than 2600 of these kits were sitting in storage when he took office — never tested — but not any more.  Herring says more than 350 of the tests have led to DNA hits, and some may lead to prosecutions. More from WFIR’s Evan Jones:

07-09 Rape Kits Wrap1-WEB

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia has eliminated a backlog of thousands of untested rape kits, becoming only the seventh state in the country to do so, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said Wednesday.

Herring said the project to test rape kits — some decades old — began in 2015. Since then, 2,665 rape kits have been tested, 851 new DNA profiles have been uploaded into a national DNA database and 354 “hits” have been sent to law enforcement agencies for further investigation.

Rape kits are used to collect DNA and other physical evidence from rape victims.

“Eliminating this backlog means that a wrong has been righted, that justice is closer for more survivors and that Virginia is a safer place,” Herring said during a news conference.

Herring said when he first took office six years ago, he was shocked to learn the state had a backlog of nearly 3,000 untested rape kits.

Along with eliminating the backlog, the state Department of Forensic Science developed an electronic tracking system so victims and law enforcement agencies are able to check the status and location of rape kits.

Debbie Smith, a Williamsburg woman who was raped by a masked intruder in 1989, said that after her perpetrator’s trial, she was shown a storage area filled with untested rape kits. She said she was heartbroken when she looked at all the kits because she knew “that each one of those women were feeling the same feelings I felt before my assailant was identified.”

“These kits can contain powerful DNA evidence that can identify unknown perpetrators, long unsolved cases, prevent rapists from claiming future victims, and it can even exonerate the innocent,” said Smith, the founder of Hope Exists after Rape Trauma, Inc., a nonprofit foundation, to help victims of sexual assault.

The Associated Press does not typically identify victims of sexual assault, but Smith has been a longtime public advocate for rape victims.

The state used two grants totaling $3.4 million to eliminate the backlog. The first grant of $1.4 million was used to test nearly 1,800 kits that had been collected before 2014. The second grant of $2 million was used to test about 900 kits collected been 2014 and 2016.

ROANOKE POLICE UPDATE: Roanoke Police have identified the victim of this incident as William English, 48 of Roanoke. No arrests have been made regarding this investigation.

PREVIOUS: On July 7, 2020 just before 5:30am, Roanoke Police were notified of a person with a gunshot wound in the 700 block of 4th Street SE. Responding officers located an adult male with a gunshot wound outside of a business in the area. The man was pronounced deceased on scene. His identity will be released as soon as notifications can be made.This is an ongoing homicide investigation. No one has been arrested at this time .Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call (540)344-8500 and share what you know. You can also text us at 274637; please begin the text with “Roanoke PD” to ensure it’s properly sent. Both calls and texts can remain anonymous.

Roanoke Police are investigating after a man was found with a gunshot wound to the head this morning near 4th Street and Bullitt Avenue SE. Officials say roads surrounding the rescue mission out to Dale Avenue are currently blocked off. This includes Bullitt and 5th, and Elm and 4th around the PPG Paints store.

Photo: FCSO

A Franklin County Grand Jury has indicted a Marine deserter for killing his mother’s boyfriend in 2019. Rodney Brown was killed on November 9 last year and Michael Brown – no relation – was on the run until November 27, when he was found in the home where the murder took place. Rodney Brown was his mother’s boyfriend. Michael Brown was the subject of a manhunt in Roanoke at one point. Charges (as reported by the Roanoke Times) include premeditated First-Degree Murder, use of a firearm while committing murder and breaking and entering.

MGN

Roanoke Police say two men are charged after officers seized more than 40 containers of illegal fireworks. Police say 45-year-old old Roy Abbott of Roanoke and 65-year-old Mark Burnette of Salem were selling the fireworks from a vehicle. Officials say the investigation started when someone reported a complaint to the city Fire Marshal’s office.

NEWS RELEASE: On July 2nd, the City of Roanoke Fire Marshal’s Office, in cooperation with the Roanoke Police Department and City of Salem Fire Marshal’s Office, seized over 40 containers of illegal fireworks. Mark Burnette, age 65, of Salem was charged with possession of illegal fireworks and sale of fireworks without a permit. Roy Abbott, 45, of Roanoke City was charged with possession of illegal fireworks. More charges may be forthcoming. In Virginia, it is illegal to possess, use, store, sell, or handle any firework that explodes, rises into the air, travels laterally, or fires projectiles into the air. The City of Roanoke Fire Marshal’s office received a complaint of the distribution of illegal fireworks earlier this week. After an investigation, in coordination with the Roanoke Police Department, officials witnessed the subjects distributing illegal fireworks. This gave officials reasonable suspicion to interrogate and search the subjects vehicle in which they were distributing from. Upon the initial search 40 containers of illegal fireworks were recovered. This is an ongoing investigation.

NEWS RELEASE: On the morning of June 26th, Roanoke Fire-EMS responded to five dumpster fires in the SE area of the City of Roanoke. The cause of the fires was deemed incendiary, and these fires are believed to be related.

The City of Roanoke’s Fire Marshal’s Office and Roanoke Police Department are searching for a suspect in the investigation and are looking to identify the man pictured.

The subject is a White male, medium build, between 5’10 and 6’0 in height. The subject was driving a White Hyundai Elantra, year 2011 – up.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call either the City of Roanoke’s Fire Marshal’s Office at (540) 853-2795 or the Roanoke Police Department at (540) 344-8500 and share what you know. You can also text RPD at 274637; please begin the text with “RoanokePD” to ensure it’s properly sent. Both calls and texts can remain anonymous.

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