Crime and Public Safety

Roanoke Police have charged a 27-year-old city resident with setting fire overnight to the Little Caesar’s Pizza on Brandon Avenue near Towers Shopping Center. Police say once breaking in, Kurt Davis set fire to pizza boxes, causing extensive fire and smoke damage inside. Officials say surveillance video helped them find Davis today inside a public restroom at Towers.

(Roanoke City Police release) On February 13 at 1:16 a.m. Roanoke Fire EMS and Roanoke Police responded to 911 calls for the report of a fire inside the Little Caesars business in the 700 block of Brandon Avenue S.W. Evidence indicates that a suspect gained entry to the business by breaking out a side window and climbing in. Once inside, the suspect set numerous cardboard pizza boxes on fire causing extensive fire and smoke damage to the interior of the business. The Fire Department extinguished the fire. Damage estimates to the building are not finalized at this time. At 2:11 a.m. Roanoke Fire EMS personnel were leaving the Little Caesars scene when they observed a small vehicle fire in the 1000 block of 23rd Street S.W. This is a short distance from Little Caesars. The vehicle, a 2003 Chevrolet van, had a cloth placed into the gas tank and the cloth set on fire. The van sustained minor damage from the fire.

Investigating officers were able to obtain video footage of the suspect from internal video surveillance cameras at Little Caesars. Patrol officers, detectives, and fire personnel worked throughout the morning in an attempt to locate the suspect based on his physical and clothing description. Officers located the suspect inside a public restroom at Towers Mall. The suspect was interviewed by detectives at the Police Department. Kurt James Davis, age 27 of Roanoke, has been charged with Breaking and Entering and Arson for the Little Caesars incident and Arson for the fire associated with the van. He is being held without bond at the Roanoke City Jail.

From News Release: Virginia State Police Trooper L.W. Hodges is investigating a motorcycle crash which resulted in a fatality.  The crash occurred today (Feb 12) at 1:23 p.m. on Interstate 81, northbound at the 148 mile marker in Botetourt County.

A 2017 Honda Rebel 300 motorcycle was traveling north on Interstate 81 at the 148 mile marker, which is just south of the Troutville scales; when the vehicle lost control and ran off the right side of the roadway and struck the guardrail, ejecting the driver.  The north side of Interstate 81 was closed from the time of the crash until 2:14 p.m. when the left lane was opened for traffic to pass.  The right lane was opened after the removal of the motorcycle at 3:07 p.m.

The driver of the Honda motorcycle was identified as Damian Reece Hiatt, 23, of Covington, Va.  Mr. Hiatt was wearing a helmet and died at the scene of the crash.

The crash remains under investigation.

Roanoke Police say two juveniles are charged with holding up a taxi driver early today. Police say the two got in the taxi downtown, and when the driver got near 16th Street and Campbell Avenue Southwest, one put what felt like a gun to the cabbie’s neck and the other displayed what looked like a handgun. Officers soon found two people nearby that matched the description. They’re now in juvenile custody.

From Roanoke City Police: On February 12, 2018 at 12:36 a.m. Roanoke Police responded to 15th Street and Campbell Avenue for the report of a robbery. A cab driver advised that they had picked up two males from a business downtown in the 100 block of Church Avenue S.W. The two asked to go to a location in the S.W. Roanoke. As the driver approached 16th Street and Campbell Avenue S.W. the driver felt a metal object pressed to their neck, which they felt was a gun. The male demanded money from the driver. The driver then observed that the second male in the back seat with what appeared to be a handgun. The driver gave an amount of cash to the pair in the back seat and they fled on foot from the cab. Responding officers located two males on 13th Street next to Salem Avenue that matched the description of the suspects. A search of the immediate area located two BB pistols in the alley adjacent to where the pair was stopped. The BB pistols were similar in appearance to real handguns. An identification of the suspects was made by the driver and the pair was arrested. Cash was located on the pair. Both males, who are juveniles, were charged with Robbery and taken to Roanoke Valley Detention Center.


Roanoke Police say a suspect is in custody for holding up the Apple Market last night at Orange Avenue and King Street. Officials say police found a man meeting the description of the robber not far from the store a short time later. Police say he then developed a medical issue, so he was taken for hospital treatment. The man’s name has not yet been released.

From Roanoke City Police: On February 11, 2018 at 9:58 p.m. Roanoke Police responded to an alarm call at the Apple Market in the 3300 block of Orange Avenue N.E. While responding to the store, officers were advised that a robbery had occurred. A male had entered the store and went behind the counter with the clerk. The male had their hand inside their shirt and ordered the clerk to not move and to open the register, The clerk complied and the suspect grabbed an amount of cash from inside the register and fled on foot headed west on Orange Avenue. Responding officers established a perimeter to attempt to locate the suspect. At 10:03 p.m. an officer observed a male fitting both the physical and clothing description of the robbery suspect on Seibel Drive adjacent to Orange Avenue. The suspect fled as officers approached, and a foot pursuit ensued. The suspect eventually stopped and was taken into custody without any further incident. Video evidence shows him as the robber of the store. He was placed into a police car and officers saw he was having a medical issue. They immediately called for rescue and Roanoke Fire EMS responded and the individual was taken to Carillon Roanoke Memorial Hospital for treatment. The money stolen during the robbery was located on his person, along with drug paraphernalia. The suspect was found to have an outstanding misdemeanor warrant for Threats over the Phone, in addition to an Emergency Protective Order. An additional warrant was obtained for Robbery for the incident at Apple Market. The warrants and protective order will be served when the subject is medically released. The 37 year old adult male will be named after the warrants are served.

Shawn Hunter

UPDATE: A judge has found Peacemakers President Shawn Hunter not guilty of all three charges. Hunter had been charged after sending a lewd photo to a Roanoke Times reporter. He says it was accidental.

PREVIOUS: There was no shortage of media coverage yesterday when the trial for Peacemakers founder Shawn Hunter was delayed and two new misdemeanor charges regarding a lewd picture sent to Roanoke Times reporter Amy Friedenberger were announced – except in the Times, which ran no story today despite having a reporter in the courtroom.  Hunter says he apologized after sending that intimate photo by mistake to Friedenberger – and that there was no “intent,” as the original computer harassment charge requires. Hunter also claims his attorney told him video of a Roanoke police detective interviewing Friedenberger indicates she was told there would have to be “intent” for the misdemeanor charge to valid. Outside the courthouse Shawn Hunter spoke his mind about the Times – and the charges.

Students at a Bedford County High School have created a video on the social and legal dangers of sexting. “Exposed” was written, produced, acted, and edited by Jefferson Forest High School students. It has two main messages: those nude sexting photos never go away, and on top of that, they are criminal violations. WFIR’s Evan Jones has the story:

UPDATE: The following is an update from the Homicide which occurred on February 9, 2018,  in the 700 Block 29th Street NW.
The victim has been identified as Markell Trevon Girty, age 23 of Roanoke, Va. The investigation has revealed that Girty was shot in the 700 Block of 29th Street NW., and drove his vehicle away from the area where due to the injuries he sustained from being shot he was involved in the motor vehicle accident, in the intersection of 24th Street and Salem Turnpike NW.. The adult female in the second car was unrelated to the original incident, was transported to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital for treatment.
The investigation is on-going. No arrest have been made at this time.

PREVIOUS: Roanoke Police say the man found with a gunshot wound died under hospital treatment. His name is not yet being released. Police ask anyone with any information on this incident to contact them.

From Roanoke City Police: The adult male that was transported to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital was pronounced deceased at 3:43 PM, his identity is known, but will not be released until the proper notifications are made to his next of kin. An autopsy will be conducted by the Medical Examiners Office.  No arrest have been made in this incident. Anyone with information on this incident can contact the RPD tip line at 540-344-8500, callers can remain anonymous. Anonymous text messages can be sent to 274637. Please begin your text with the keyword “RoanokePD” to ensure that it is sent properly. Detectives and the Forensics Service Unit are actively investigating this incident and collecting evidence.


PREVIOUS: Roanoke Police say when officers were called to an accident this afternoon, they found a man in one of the cars had a gunshot wound. Police say it happened near Salem Turnpike and 24th Street Northwest, and the crash itself does not appeared to be connected to the gunshot wound. A woman in the second vehicle was also transported for hospital treatment, her injuries said to be non-life-threatening.

From Roanoke City Police: On February 9, 2018 at 2:48 pm, Roanoke Police were dispatched to the area of 24th Street N.W. at Salem Turnpike regarding a motor vehicle accident. On officer’s arrival, they located a two-vehicle accident. Roanoke Fire and EMS responded to the scene, began treatment of the occupants of the vehicles and during the treatment of a male occupant, they located an injury consistent with a gunshot wound. The male was transported to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital for treatment. A female from the second vehicle was transported with non-life threatening injuries. The vehicle crash is not believed to be connected to the gunshot injury at this time. Detectives and the Forensics Services Unit are on scene and continuing the investigation.

Media outlets report that David Eisenhauer is pleading no contest to abduction, murder, and concealing a body in the Nicole Lovell case.  Pleading no contest means he waives his right to a trial. He cannot appeal the case either. Those charges could amount to life plus 15 years.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Mary Pettit, Blacksburg Police Chief Anthony Wilson and Nicole Lovell’s mother, Tammy Weeks, offered brief comments after the case concluded. Here are their full remarks: