Entries in Virginia (45)


Shooter May Have Posted Online Before Va. Community College Attack

Hemera/Thinkstock(CHRISTIANSBURG, Va.) -- An 18-year-old college student may have posted messages online that detailed the weapons and ammunition he planned to use before allegedly shooting two women at a Virginia community college on Friday.

"I'm nervous because I've never really handled a shotgun but a few times with the Christiansburg police," Neil MacInnis, of Christiansburg, Va., reportedly posted just minutes before he opened fire at the satellite campus of New River Community College at New River Valley Mall, police said.

"Stevens 320 shotgun. Buck shots and slugs," MacInnis reportedly posted before the attack.

Investigators could not confirm if the information in the post matched the details of Friday's attack.

Christiansburg Police Chief Mark Sisson said MacInnis had participated in the town's Police Department Citizens Academy program in 2012.

The 12-week course allowed participants to ride along with police officers, tour the officers' training facility, as well as practice with firearms at the firing range, the Associated Press reported.

The type of weapon, how it was obtained and how many shots were fired during the incident were not being released due to the ongoing investigation, Sisson said at a news briefing on Friday night.

MacInnis was charged with two counts each of malicious wounding and using a firearm in the commission of a felony. He is being held without bail in Montgomery County Jail.

MacInnis, who is a student at the community college, wounded one student and one school employee in the attack. One of the victims was airlifted to the hospital for medical attention, while the other was taken by ambulance, Sisson said at the news briefing.

MacInnis was subdued by an off-duty security guard less than 10 minutes after the shooting began on Friday.

Authorities have not yet established the shooter's motive.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Three Killed in Multi-Vehicle Crash in Virginia Due to Fog

Comstock/Thinkstock(NORTH CHESTERFIELD, Va.) -- At least three people were killed and at least 25 were taken to the hospital after a pile-up involving dozens of cars Sunday on a Virginia interstate.

Virginia State Police said "excessive fog" in the Fancy Gap Mountain area, near the North Carolina border, caused at least 75 vehicles to crash in the southbound lanes of Interstate 77.

The first emergency calls began coming in at 1:15 p.m. ET, authorities said.  The northbound lanes were closed to allow emergency vehicles to quickly reach people needing assistance at the scene, according to a statement from the Virginia State Police.

While the cause of the initial crash remains under investigation, Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said it was a classic pile up.

"[There were] 17 separate traffic crashes, but they all occurred as a chain reaction in that one-mile stretch of Interstate 77," Geller said.  "The initial crash, the very first one, we're still investigating obviously what caused that one exactly, that's still under investigation."

After the first crash, she said, other vehicles on the highway were traveling too fast to stop by the time they saw the accidents ahead of them in the thick fog.

"People were traveling too fast for the road conditions and you had the initial crash and then you had a chain reaction, a series of crashes because the fog was so thick, people could not see what was up ahead," she said.

Traffic was re-directed in both directions as authorities worked to clear the scene and investigate the crashes, the Virginia State Police said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Virginia Teens Admit to Attempting to Poison Teacher

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEWPORT NEWS, Va.) -- Two Virginia middle school students are facing felony charges of attempted poisoning after they allegedly spiked their teacher's tea at least twice with hand sanitizer.

The two 13-year-old male students, who have not been named, were removed from Hines Middle School in Newport News, Va., and placed in an alternative school after confessing, officials said. The attempted poisoning was brought to the school's attention by student witnesses on Jan. 29, who contacted the school's resource officer and assistant principal, according to Michelle Price with Newport News Public Schools.

"An investigation was started by the administrators at Hines," Price told ABC News. "This usually involves interviewing students involved, and the ones who came forward, and talking to the teacher. The students did then confess to putting some hand sanitizer in the teacher's beverage."

The school's officer then contacted the Newport News police department's Special Victims Unit, which conducted a thorough investigation, police said in a statement. On March 6, the two teens were each charged with one count of attempted poisoning, a class three felony.

The two students were removed, according to Price, and recommended for long-term suspensions. They were then referred to a disciplinary review committee, which involves three school board members, who upheld the long-term suspension.

"It's the board's philosophy that all students should be offered some sort of educational experience," Price said. "They are with students who have been convicted of or are facing charges."

The two students were sent to a separate community school in January, and will not be able to attend any other comprehensive school in the district during the police investigation, according to Price.

Price said that the 66-year-old teacher, who does not want to be named, was unaware that anything had been put in her tea until she was told, and missed a few days of teaching when she went to see her doctor.

"She did not require hospitalization. Aside from few days she's missed she's been teaching," Price said. "We don't believe a lot of it was ingested, and we believe it may have happened twice."

Hines Middle School does not stand out as a problem school in the district, and most of the problems at the school can be characterized as "preteen and teen drama," according to Price.

If the accused teens are found guilty they will have to remain in the community school, she said.

A class three felony carries a punishment of not less than five years nor more than 20 years in prison and a fine of not more than $100,000 in Virginia, according to police. It is unclear how the teens plead, as Newport News juvenile court does not share information pertaining to juveniles.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Defense Worker Buys $217 Million Winning Lotto Ticket

Courtesy of Virginia Lottery(FREDERICKSBURG, Va.) -- A Virginia husband and wife won the $217 million Powerball jackpot, the second-largest lotto prize ever won in the state.

Dave and Nancy Honeywell of Fredericksburg, Va., both work for the Defense Department.

Dave Honeywell, a computer scientist, bought the winning ticket at one of Richmond International Airport’s Lottery Express stations when he left for a business trip to Denver on Feb. 6.

His winning numbers were 5-27-36-38-41, chosen randomly through Easy Pick’s computer system. His prize is the state’s first Powerball jackpot win, the Virginia Lottery said.

According to the Virginia Lottery, Honeywell said that he plans to continue working.

After the prize was awarded, the Honeywells declined to comment further to the media.

On Valentine’s Day, he and his wife, a project manager, received a giant check at the spot where he bought the ticket. They chose the one-time cash option of $136.4 million before taxes.


Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Convicted Murderer Who Pleaded for Death Electrocuted in Virginia

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(JARRATT, Va.) -- A Virginia inmate who begged -- and even killed -- for the death penalty was executed by electric chair Wednesday night.

Robert Gleason Jr., 42, was pronounced dead at 9:08 p.m. authorities said. He was executed at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt, Va.

Gleason was already serving a life sentence for murder when he killed two other prisoners in a quest for the death penalty. He threatened to continue killing until he was sentenced to death.

Despite Gleason's determination to be executed, his former lawyers battled to keep him alive and sought a stay of his execution.

"This is going to look to most people like a case that is appropriate for the death penalty," Gleason's former attorney Jon Sheldon told ABC News Wednesday. "But what's odd about the case is it flips the death penalty precisely on its head in that the motive for the prison killing was only so he could get the death penalty."

Sheldon said killing Gleason would send a bad message to other inmates who could potentially use killing to get what they want.

Gleason was convicted of murdering Michael Kent Jamerson in Amherst, Va., in 2008. He was sentenced to life without parole. In prison, he strangled Harvey Watson, his cellmate, and Aaron Cooper, a fellow inmate.

The inmate has been insisting on his execution.

Gleason chose the electric chair over lethal injection, making him the first in Virginia to do so in almost three years.

Gleason waived death penalty appeals and battled his former court-appointed lawyers who have filed a number of appeals to stay the execution, claiming that he was not mentally sound to make the decision.

"There is substantial current evidence to suggest that Mr. Gleason, who is not thinking or behaving rationally, and that he is unable to assist counsel," the attorneys wrote in a Jan. 9 filing. Gleason was in solitary confinement for the past year.

They said that Gleason exhibited, "serious paranoia, racing thoughts, anxiety, disordered thinking, pressured speech," and other mental problems. The lawyers also wrote that Gleason's mental health has not been evaluated in over a year, which he spent in solitary confinement.

Sheldon filed several last minute appeals to stay the execution. Both state and federal courts have rejected the motions for stay the execution. A Supreme Court motion has not yet been answered.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said last week he would not intervene in the execution.

"Gleason has expressed no remorse for these horrific murders," McDonnell said in a statement. "He has not sought to appeal his convictions and has not filed a petition for clemency. He has consistently rejected any offers of legal assistance. Gleason has said that he wants the Jan. 16 execution to 'go as is.' He has been found competent by the appropriate courts to make all of these decisions."

McDonnell said that even though Gleason did not file a petition for clemency, he reviewed the case and, "found no compelling reason to intercede."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Labradoodle Mistaken for Lion, Prompts 911 Calls

ABC News(NORFOLK, Va.) -- Bustling Colley Avenue in Norfolk, Va., lined with its shops and eateries, is clearly no wild jungle. But that didn’t stop three 911 callers Tuesday from reporting that there was a lion on the loose roaming the streets, possibly rummaging for food.

Turns out, however, it was just one local business owner’s friendly Labradoodle dog, named Charles the Monarch, whose fur coat is intentionally groomed to resemble nearby Old Dominion University’s lion mascot.

“I go to Old Dominion University and our mascot is a lion and we have a local zoo right here also,” Charles’ owner, Natalie Painter, told ABC News. “He was just roaming around. He does his own thing a lot of the time. He visits the locals on the street and walks on the sidewalk shop to shop. He was walking around, and he does look a lot like a lion. So I guess some concerned citizens thought there was a lion.”

Upon hearing of the lion sightings, the police actually called the Virginia Zoo, making sure the lions were all in place, which they were. But apparently this isn’t the first time the Norfolk Police Department has been alerted to a “lion” in the area.

“The callers all described the Labradoodle as a ‘lion.’ The dog is named Charles and has not been documented to hurt or bite anyone,” Karen Parker-Chesson, the Norfolk Police Department public information officer, said.

Natalie’s father, Daniel Painter, owns Daniel’s Lawn and Garden Center on Colley Avenue, and often has Charles the Monarch at work with him. The dog is well-known around the community for his resemblance to the lion mascot, frequently making appearances at football tailgates and around campus.

“It happens all the time,” Natalie Painter said. “It’s really funny. I’m used to the attention but when I’m on campus, I’ll bring him to roam around while I do homework outside and I see students and faculty running around with cameras after him. It’s like he’s in The Beatles.

“He’s 4 years old. He’s been a lion ever since we’ve had him. We always bring him to all the football games. He’s a little local celebrity when it comes to football season, but it always catches people off guard.”

A Labradoodle is a cross between a Labrador retriever and the standard or miniature poodle.

Charles, affectionately nicknamed “Labra-Lion,” has established quite a reputation for himself, equipped with his own Facebook and Twitter pages.

And when asked how Charles the Monarch got his distinctive name, the answer was simple.

“We took a picture when he was on the porch one day,” Painter said. “He had his snout up, and he just looked so majestic, so regal. So it just stuck."

“People are abbreviating it on Facebook, calling him ‘CTM.’ That’s when you know you’ve made it.”


Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Toddler's Death Points to Other Killings

Hemera/Thinkstock(MANASSAS, Va.) -- Police investigating a Virginia man in connection to the death of his 15-month-old son are also looking to see whether he played a role in the mysterious deaths of two other people: his mother and an ex-girlfriend.

Joaquin Rams, 40, became the focus of a Manassas Police Department investigation last month when his son, Prince McLeod Rams, died during a three-hour unsupervised visit.

Police have called it a "suspicious death" while they await the results of a medical examiner's report.

Rams has not been charged.

That case remains an "active and open investigation," police spokesman Lowell Nevill said, but it prompted cops to look into the 2008 suicide of Rams' mother and the 2003 shooting death of his ex-girlfriend.

Rams has not been named a suspect in any of the three deaths, but Prince's mother believed the man was dangerous, requesting last year that a Maryland judge order his visits supervised. The judge denied the request.

McLeod, an intelligence analyst and former contestant on the CBS reality-TV show The Amazing Race, ended her engagement with Rams about two weeks after their son was born.

She mentioned the women's deaths at a custody hearing, but a judge dismissed the concerns, calling them, "smoke that's been blown that I can see through," according to court documents.

Police have not formally re-opened an investigation into the death of Rams' mother, Alma Collins, whose death was ruled a suicide in 2008. Rams, however, remains a suspect in the still-unsolved 2003 shooting death of his ex-girlfriend Shawn K. Mason.

Rams did not respond to email and phone requests for comment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Cops Hunt Serial Pipe Bomb Thrower in Virginia

ATF(STAFFORD COUNTY, Va.) -- Federal, state and local police are on the lookout for a man they said targeted two policemen and an ex-girlfriend in homemade pipe bomb attacks.

Police officials in Stafford County, Virginia said in a press release that Lawrence Alan Stewart, 25, is suspected of detonating three pipe bombs within a few minutes of each other at separate locations early in the morning Tuesday. The targets of the attacks were a county detective, a county deputy and an ex-girlfriend of Lawrence's, police said.

While no one was killed or injured in the attacks, authorities said Lawrence is still on the loose and could be a threat to the public.

"We are concerned that this guy could be running around with a carload of pipe bombs, and we want to catch him before anyone else is targeted and certainly before anyone is injured or killed," said Richard Marianos, special agent in charge of the ATF's Washington, D.C. field office.

A press release from the Stafford County Sheriff's Office said Lawrence is considered "armed and dangerous."

Lawrence has been charged with two counts of attempted murder, two counts of arson and one count of using a weapon or device for a terror act, police said.

"Rest assured that every investigative and law enforcement technique is being utilized to locate and arrest Laurence Stewart," Sheriff Charles Jett said. "I am hoping that the public can assist authorities in locating Stewart."

Police are asking anyone with information that could help the investigation to call the Sheriff's Office at 540-658-4400, Crime Solvers at 540-659-2020 or by texting STAFFORD and your tip to CRIMES (274637).

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Defense Contractor and Family Found Dead in Virginia

Joseph Devenney/Getty Images(FAIRFAX, Va.) -- A Virginia man is believed to have killed his wife and two sons in a murder-suicide at their home in Virginia, police said on Wednesday.

The bodies of Albert and Kathleen Peterson and their sons were found Tuesday morning by police performing a welfare check on the family after one of the adults did not show up to work for two days.

On Wednesday, Fairfax County police said that the investigation is now pointing toward Albert Peterson, 57, as the killer.  All four members of the Peterson family received gun shot wounds to their upper bodies, according to a statement released by the police.

"The preliminary investigation indicates that Albert Peterson killed his wife and their children before taking his own life," the Fairfax County police said in a statement.

Kathleen Peterson, 52, worked for defense contracting firm Blackbird Technologies in Herndon, Va., where the couple lived.  Albert Peterson had worked for Northtrop Grumman until he resigned in 2009.  It is not clear where he was working at the time of the incident.

The couple had two children: Matthew, 16, a high school sophomore, and Christhoper, 13, who was in eighth grade.

Neighbor Jim Steele told ABC News affiliate WJLA-TV that the Petersons were a nice family in the neighborhood.

"This is a horrible tragedy," Steele said.  "They seemed like a very nice family.  Didn't see anything amiss around the house. It's quite a shock."

Blackbird Technologies released a statement confirming that Kathie worked for the company and expressing their shock.  The company works with the federal government on intelligence and defense issues, according to The Washington Post.

"Kathie Peterson worked as an integral and well respected member of Blackbird Technologies' Procurement Team," read a statement by the company.  "She will be remembered as a high energy, devoted parent who always had a smile to share.  She often told stories about her sons, their sports and community activities.  She is already missed.  We have lost a member of our Blackbird family.  We are still trying to absorb the shock of this tragedy."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Super Strength: Daughter Rescues Dad Pinned Under Car

Courtesy Lauren Kornacki(RICHMOND, Va.) -- A 22-year-old Virginia woman summoned some superhero strength to lift a BMW off her father, who became pinned under the car while trying to fix a blown tire on it.

Lauren Kornacki, a recent graduate of the University of Mary Washington, said she went outside to ask to borrow the car on Saturday.

"I didn't hear my dad, so I went back inside and asked my mom where he was," Kornacki said.

When she went outside to look again for her father, Alec Kornacki, 52, she found him stuck under the BMW.

"I guess the way he was moving the car with his wrench, the jack slipped and it fell on top of him," Kornacki said. "He was unconscious and his arm was caught over his chest."

Kornacki, who played basketball for three years and works as a pool manager, tried to rescue her father. She may have been running on pure adrenaline.

"I just literally lifted up the car. It was like a table with a short leg. It kind of balanced it back out and shifted enough to free my dad," Kornacki said, adding that she didn't consider the feat to be "Hulk-like."

Once Alec Kornacki was freed from beneath the car, Lauren began doing chest compressions.

"I didn't even get through a full set before he started breathing again," she said.

The elder Kornacki was taken to Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center, where is being treated for five fractured ribs, a fractured sternum and vertebrae. He has also lost some feeling in his right arm, but is expected to regain full use in a couple of months, Lauren said.

Lauren, who said she is her father's "mini-me," insisted she doesn't consider herself a hero.

"My dad means everything to me," she said. "I'm having a hard time with this attention."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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