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'She was just a beautiful person'; authorities have yet to ID people involved in homicide

'She was just a beautiful person'; authorities have yet to ID people involved in homicide

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Homicide

A homicide and officer-involved shooting had happened in this Mt. Cross Road home. A woman seen at the home Friday described the person killed as a responsible, caring, and honest person. Authorities have yet to name anyone involved.

SHARON — Four kittens ran and wrestled on the concrete slab outside the home and a black sports car with bright pink rims sat in the front yard. Standing next to the car, a woman seen in the home moments earlier talked about the blood that was still inside from a homicide and officer-involved shooting that had taken place inside less than 24 hours earlier. She said the place belongs to her sister and brother-in-law.

The woman asked not to be named for this story until police provide the names of those involved. While at the house looking for her sister’s wallet Friday afternoon, she said she hopes people remember her sister as a really bright, caring and honest person. Police still have not identified the woman who died or said how she died. Authorities also have not named the suspect.

“I know there’s a lot of people out there that will remember her ... she was just a beautiful person, a beautiful soul,” the woman said.

Virginia State Police have ruled the incident, where Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s deputies found a woman dead and shot a man who refused to put his gun down when confronted, a homicide Thursday night, but have not provided any more details since then. The officer involved in the shooting has not been identified.

County deputies arrived at the home, at 8601 Mt. Cross Road, after receiving 911 calls indicating a woman had been killed, during which dispatchers could still hear gunshots in the background, state police reported. When they arrived, an armed man refused to put his gun down.

Both the state police and Chris Slemp, Pittsylvania County Public Safety Director, refused to provide a copy or transcript of the 911 call, stating it is an active criminal investigation.

A state police report late Thursday night said more shots were fired, though it did not specify if the officers or the suspect fired them. The man was ultimately shot and flown to Carillion Roanoke Memorial Hospital in Roanoke with serious injuries.

State police said three others — a man and two girls — were inside the home but were able to escape to a neighbor’s house. The woman outside the home said those were three of the four children of the person who died, ages 11, 15 and 20.

Neighbors across the street confirmed three people came running to their house screaming, but they would not provide more details of the event.

Several other neighbors did not answer when the Register & Bee knocked on their doors. One woman who did answer said “call the police if you want information.”

As of 4 p.m. Friday no charges had been filed in the county Juvenile and Domestic and Relations Court, and no public search warrants related to the incident were available in the county Circuit Court Clerk’s Office.

From the outside of the home, a shattered glass pane in the front door was the only indication that anything might have been wrong. The home is nestled in the quiet residential community of Sharon. Multiple neighbors who would not provide their names said that everyone in the area sort of sticks to themselves.

The incident occurred in the jurisdiction of the county sheriff’s department, but the state police have taken over the investigation of both the homicide and the officer-involved shooting.

It is a policy of the county law enforcement agency to allow another agency — usually the state police — to investigate any officer-involved shootings, explained Capt. Corey Webb, of the sheriff’s office.

Vic Ingram, the current Tunstall representative on the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors who worked in the sheriff’s department for 30 years, including two years as the captain of internal affairs, said this allows for impartiality and to make sure all the facts are found.

“It’s just a good practice to have an outside, impartial agency look at it … to make sure the use of force is justified,” he said.

There is no state law that requires law enforcement agencies to bring in another agency for officer-involved shootings, state police spokeswoman Corinne Geller explained, but state police will work with localities that request investigations. Findings from the investigation of the officer-involved shooting will be submitted to the commonwealth’s attorney “for review and adjudication.”

In this instance, the Virginia State Police also is running point on the homicide investigation.

“Since both incidents were pretty much combined, we decided to let them take over the entire investigation,” Webb told the Register & Bee.

Webb and Sheriff Mike Taylor did not respond to questions about the status of the officer involved in the shooting. Ingram said from his experience the officer usually would be taken off the streets and assigned desk duty.

Ayers reports for the Register & Bee. Reach him at (434) 791-7981.

Ayers reports for the Register & Bee. Reach him at (434) 791-7981.

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