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Crime and Public Safety

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The new General Assembly majority is moving quickly to advance gun-related legislation that the previous Republican majority has blocked for years. Some of the Democrats’ centerpiece proposals received committee approval Monday, as WFIR’s Evan Jones reports.

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Virginia lawmakers have taken the first steps toward enacting a series gun laws that supporters say will make the state safer — and opponents say will punish only law-abiding gun owners. The first step in the process is committee, in this case the Senate Judiciary Committee now chaired by Roanoke Senator John Edwards. The first of many proposals before it Monday was one to limit handgun sales to one per person per month, and it passed on a party-line vote. So did a separate measure calling for a limit of handgun purchases in Virginia to one per month per person and what is commonly called a “red flag” bill that would allow authorities to temporarily take guns away from anyone deemed dangerous to themselves or others.

NEWS RELEASE: On January 11, 2020 just after midnight, Roanoke Police responded to a report of someone shot in the 1800 block of Gandy Dr NW [in the Lincoln Terrace area near Washington Park.] Arriving officers located an adult male — later identified as Nasion Brewer, 25 of Roanoke — inside a residence with multiple gunshot wounds. Brewer was transported by Roanoke Fire-EMS to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital where he died a short time later. Preliminary investigation indicates there was a confrontation between Brewer and another adult male that escalated quickly and shots were fired. No arrests have been made. This is an ongoing investigation. 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 “RoanokePD” to ensure it’s properly sent. Both calls and texts can remain anonymous.

UPDATE:  Roanoke Police Department have identified the victim as Mahir Umar Abdullah, 63 of Roanoke. No arrests have been made regarding this investigation at this time.

PREVIOUS: Roanoke Police say a man’s death last night is being investigated as a homicide, but they are not yet releasing many details. Officers were called to the 800 block of Shenandoah Avenue, where Roanoke Fire-EMS crews were already treating the victim; police say he died a short time later. So far, there is no word on the victim’s name or the circumstances surrounding his death.

NEWS RELEASE: On January 7, 2020 just after 10:30 pm, Roanoke Police responded to the 800 block of Shenandoah Ave NW in reference to a report of suspicious circumstances. Arriving officers located an injured adult male being attended to by Roanoke Fire-EMS. The male was transported by Roanoke Fire-EMS to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital where he died a short while later. The cause of death and the circumstances surrounding his injuries is under investigation. No arrests have been made at this time regarding this incident. This is an ongoing investigation. This incident is being investigated as a homicide 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 “RoanokePD” to ensure it’s properly sent. Both calls and texts can remain anonymous.


Photo: Henry Co. Sheriff

UPDATED STATE POLICE NEWS RELEASE: The Martinsville man who shot a Martinsville Police Officer was released from Roanoke Memorial Hospital and arrested by the Virginia State Police on Saturday, January 4, 2020. Thomas Joe Braxton III, 37, of Martinsville, Va., was arrested on one count of Attempted Capital Murder; One count Use of a Firearm in the Commission of a Felony; One count Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon; One count of Felony Elude.  Braxton is being held without bond at the Henry County Jail.

The investigation remains ongoing and once completed, the findings will be turned over to the Henry County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office for review.

PREVIOUS: At the request of City of Martinsville Police Chief Eddie Cassady, the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Salem Field Office is investigating a shooting that resulted in both a Martinsville Police Officer and a 37-year-old Martinsville resident being treated for non-life threatening injuries.

The incident began at approximately 9:38 p.m. on Jan 1, 2020 when a Martinsville Police Officer attempted to stop a 2002 Toyota Pickup for a traffic violation on Memorial Blvd. at Askin Street. The operator of the vehicle refused to stop when the officer activated his emergency equipment and a pursuit was initiated. As the pickup continued down Theatre Street in Henry County, the driver jumped from the moving vehicle and fled on foot. Meanwhile, the pickup truck continued to roll down an embankment, crossed over Joseph Martin Highway and crashed into an embankment. No other vehicles were struck during the pursuit or by the driverless pickup.

When Martinsville Police located the suspect behind a nearby apartment building, the adult male suspect began firing at and struck one of the Martinsville Police Officers. The officers at the scene returned fire. The suspect’s firearm was recovered at the scene.

The suspect was flown to Roanoke Memorial Hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries sustained in the shooting.

The Martinsville Police Officer was flown to Wake Forest Baptist Health in North Carolina and is still being treated for a non-life threatening gunshot wound.

The investigation remains ongoing at this time. Charges are pending.



Del. Sam Rasoul

It promises to be the biggest “hot button” issue during the General Assembly session that convenes on Wednesday – gun control legislation and related bills. In the first of a two-part series WFIR’s Gene Marrano speaks with Democratic Delegate Sam Rasoul:

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Republican Delegate Chris Head weighs in here tomorrow morning on gun control issues.

State Police say a driver heading along Interstate 77 was shot and seriously injured this morning when another vehicle pulled up alongside and someone inside it opened fire. Troopers say it happened a few miles south of the West Virginia line in Bland County. Police are looking for a gold Pontiac Montana minivan.

NEWS RELEASE: A Tazewell County man is being treated for serious injuries after being shot at while traveling on Interstate 77 in Bland County Friday morning. Anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to call the Virginia State Police by dialing #77 or calling 276-228-3131 or be emailing

At approximately 5:27 a.m. Friday (Jan. 3), the 40-year-old male was driving north on I-77 in a burgundy Toyota Corolla when a gold Pontiac Montana minivan pulled up beside his vehicle near the 63 mile marker in Bland County. Someone inside the Pontiac van began shooting at the Toyota and struck the driver. The van then continued north on I-77 towards West Virginia.
The Toyota’s driver pulled off onto the shoulder and called 911. He is being treated for serious, but non-life threatening, injuries at Wytheville Community Hospital.
The Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Wytheville Field Office is investigating the incident

Catlyn Stewart_RoCo photo

Roanoke County Police have arrested a suspect in a shooting incident that took place Monday on Skyview Road. The gunshot victim was treated and released. Roanoke County now says 27 year old Catlyn Stewart of Roanoke County was taken into custody on New Year’s Eve without incident. She’s been charged with abduction, malicious wounding and possession and use of a firearm by a convicted felon.

(from Roanoke City PD) In the first hour of the New Year this morning Roanoke Police observed a motorcycle driving recklessly on the sidewalk downtown. The vehicle fled the scene and when officers initiated a traffic stop a short vehicle pursuit ensued. The driver then crashed on Williamson Road. An adult male was transported to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital; his condition not known at this time. Virginia State Police has been contacted to conduct the crash investigation as per department guidelines.

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