Shots Fired in Robbery in Town

2009 July 10
by Chuck Shotton

IMG_568311:44 – Just witnessed gunfire between robber and citizens (Prescott Engle and my neighbor Ralph) on Edwards Ferry at Dodona. More in a bit!

12:24 PM. Black guy, dressed in black, baggy pants, black baggy short sleeve shirt, carrying a silver pistol is loose in town. Not a good time to be playing pedestrian! Apparently he robbed the jewelry store across from the county building, hid in a neighbor’s back yard until he was flushed out. Watched him run across the street to Mom’s Apple Pie, nearly getting run over by Stilson Greene in the process. Cops and helicopters still looking.

2:20 PM – Seems like it is mostly over. The guy subsequently stole a Jeep Cherokee and drove it south, abandoned it, and is now apparently barricaded in a house on Davis Ave. People with radios (not naming names or organizations) say that he is in the house alone and quite surrounded. Leesburg Today is reporting that he has hostages. Not sure which is correct.

Update at 2:51 PM – friend tells me it was her cousin’s niece’s family who was held hostage and had their Jeep stolen. They are OK now. So likely the guy is alone in the place on Davis Ave. I guess it’s up to the guy how this ends up.

4:00 PM – press conference spooling up in the Safeway parking lot. Apparently the (potential) hostage situation (2 hostages unconfirmed) continues. If anyone stops by to hear what’s going on, please post a comment here. Seems Channel 7 is teed up to get the story with satellite truck in place. Channel 4 has live coverage now.

9:30 PM – one hostage released. Apparently the female hostage was released a bit ago.

10:15 PM – It’s over. The guy is in custody. Hostages released .

This is the *last straw* for me on the issue of police in town. And I believe Kristen Umstattd’s utter lack of understanding on the issue is the final foot of rope she needs to pay out.

Her quote on the issue in this week’s Leesburg Today article:

Mayor Kristen Umstattd is not as quick to move forward on the idea of a downtown police patrol, noting that the council must “look at the town as a whole.”

“The downtown remains an area where crime is not as prevalent as in some other areas of town, but there’s no question that anything that happens in the downtown gets more attention than elsewhere in town,” Umstattd said. “The best thing the council can do is not to panic but look at the big picture of where police resources need to be deployed.”

I’m sorry, but Kristen, you are , in a word, an idiot if this is how you view the problem and it’s the ultimate example of why your out-of-touch “leadership” is no longer relevant for Leesburg.

I watched from 30 feet away while a brazen criminal drew a weapon and shot at my neighbor today IN THE DOWNTOWN AREA, 100 feet from my house. I was in the alley behind the BB&T on Monday, just after the bank was robbed IN THE DOWNTOWN AREA, as the criminals fled and the police drove up. What part of CRIME IN THE DOWNTOWN AREA do you not understand? Only someone completely out of touch with reality and living in her ‘small town’ fantasy world makes such inappropriate comments when faced with these events.

And excuse me if I seem a bit irate, but having gunplay happen as I watch only feet from my home and family is not a calming experience.

22 Responses
  1. 12:27am July 11 2009
    astralv permalink

    Hi Chuck,
    Just checking the situation before going to bed.
    has the most “complete” report that I’ve been able to find.
    I have to agree completely about the use (lack of) of the alert call and the email system. The girls and I in the office were getting more information from people at home with scanners than we were getting from the authorities. I happen to have my 5 year old at work with me Friday and she was scared by all the activity. We had no idea which way this guy was heading, how many suspects were involved, etc. And the first call didn’t dome until hours after the initial incident. The email came at 2:14 PM. The only timely email sent was at 10:18 PM – about 30 minutes after Mr. Belote was released and Mr. Spencer in custody.
    The last bit of information, I wouldn’t mind receiving 3 hours after the fact. But when we have a crazy person running thru the street with a gun, don’t call me 2.5 hours later to tell me to be on the look out!
    Thank goodness for or we would have been completely in the dark except for the scanners. But most of the info on the scanners was apparently false!!! We beleived there were 6 suspects, a hostage at the county building, a cop shot and med-evac’d to the hospital.
    Ok so, I’m ranting because I’m exhausted. Final thoughts… alert system sux, ROCKS! Oh and BTW have they nailed down who is using the BB&T as their personal piggy bank???
    sorry if i miss spelled. I can’t even go back to read it. My eyes are crossing. Good night

  2. 8:54pm July 10 2009
    erod0924 permalink

    Does anyone Know of a website or channel where i can get live up to date information on what is happening? i hear the choppers and police all over but can find nothing on TV or online.

  3. 5:01pm July 10 2009

    You’re acting as if more police presence is the only possibly response. It isn’t. It’s not even the best response. Crazy people like this guy don’t care how many police are around. They will care, however, when a citizen shoots back.

    Open carry is legal in Virginia ( it’s a “gold star” open carry state: ), as is concealed carry with a permit. Get thee to a gun store, training, and regular trips to the range to practice. Carry always and everywhere. Protect yourself.

    • 5:13pm July 10 2009

      Well, armed citizens were within arm’s reach of the guy today on multiple occasions. With other pedestrians around, near houses with kids playing inside and out, and street traffic around, I have to give a LOT of credit to the guys I was near for their restraint in not firing at the crook. It really wouldn’t have helped resolve the problem. So far, no one has been hurt. One instance of poor judgement this morning could have resulted in multiple injuries or deaths. That it didn’t happen was due solely to the discretion and discipline of the citizens nearby and had nothing to do with the fact that they were (or weren’t) armed.

      I lived in the concealed carry center of the universe in Texas for 11 years and it’s just not always the answer. In this case, armed citizens could have prevented something horrible if it had gone that way. However, I think their restraint actually prevented a tragedy at the expense of a slightly longer police action.

      • 5:26pm July 10 2009

        OK. I stand (er, sit) corrected. Good luck to you, sir.

        • 6:41pm July 10 2009

          Well, no one is right or wrong. I just wanted to point out that one of the gentlemen in the story above was, in fact, armed and was escorting the crook down his neighbor’s driveway (weapon holstered) when the guy turned and ran, then turning to fire as he headed south. In all absolute honesty, had I been in his position, I think it would have been very difficult to demonstrate the same restraint.

  4. 4:25pm July 10 2009
    Pete Garvey permalink


    Just went back to Safeway. There is a police/sherrif spokesperson who is giving interviews to the press.

    I did speak with some people who were evacuated out of their homes on Davis. One family explained that the Police knocked on their door and got them out safely. However, their neighbors are being held hostage by the gunman. They think there might be as many as 3 hostages. An elderly couple (perhaps in there 80s) and a teen age grandson.

    Also, people told me that they got automated telephone calls from the police telling them to lock their doors etc. I never got one. Did anyone else?

  5. 4:07pm July 10 2009

    Those of us who saw this guy up close this morning (holy crap! he pulled his gun on Ralph and he *shot* at Prescott) could tell he was a desperate sort and he clearly had no reluctance to use his gun. It wasn’t clear whether or not the guy was on drugs — he fell down on the street a couple of times while fleeing. I really hope he realizes his only option is to give up peacefully.

  6. 4:04pm July 10 2009
    sue permalink

    An officer was on a phone interview on Ch. 4 news and said the gunman is still in the house in the 700 block of Davis Avenue and they are in negotiations….he does have hostages but they believe them to be unharmed.

  7. 3:59pm July 10 2009

    Pete, I have to stay here with the kids. If you get a chance to hear what the press conference covers, please post it here.

  8. 3:54pm July 10 2009
    Pete Garvey permalink

    Chuck, a neighbor called to tell me that a press conference was being held over by the Safeway. I walked over to see what was going on. In the parking lot on the left side there is a Channel 7 Satellite Van and other media people, but no press conference as of yet.

  9. 3:45pm July 10 2009

    Wanted to let you know, Chuck, that I came to this news by a tweet sent to me by Dave Winer from California and have now RT’ed to all my friends.

    Congrats on putting together such an excellent local blog. If I lived near Leesburg, you’d probably be in my top 10.

  10. 3:43pm July 10 2009
    Pete Garvey permalink

    Chuck, I agree with your angle on hyper-local news. I also agree that we need a downtown police presence.

    However, I am completely outraged at email alert system. The incident occured at 11:27. You reported shots fired and a foot chase at 12:32. I heard from friends with friends all of the details by 1:00. It was then that I made sure all my doors were locked, my out buildings were locked up and became very aware of my surroundings. Considering this guy took a path that went past my house or very close to it, I would say that I completely UNDER-REACTED to the situation.

    The first email alert I received was 2:32. Nearly 3hrs after the initial incident. It was vague and worthless. The email alert system must be timely if it is to be of any use at all. I wonder if your friends who were held hostage will open their email and find an alert that arrived after they were released. This had better teach Loudoun County Sherrif, Town of Leesburg Police, and Mayor and Council a lesson.

  11. 3:42pm July 10 2009
    Linda permalink

    So much for living in a nice, safe, little town… murder around the corner, shots fired while kids are playing outside on Summer Break, banks and jewelry stores being robbed left and right. I believe we will have to gather a concerted effort at obtaining a better police presence in the Historic District – it’s not just businesses, but families with children. See for a photo of the family – with baby in diapers – who were at home when their house was entered by the armed robber, they gave up their keys so he could escape with their Jeep (by total chance in this day of facebook posts they had been forewarned that an armed suspect was in the area).

  12. 3:41pm July 10 2009
    sue permalink

    I thankfully, found out about this site, due to a friend’s posting of it on facebook! I can’t believe how poorly the Loudoun Alert system is relaying information – given the safety issues. I’m anxiously awaiting updates, as I have a friend who lives on Davis and her daughter is at home alone. Any idea if this is one of the townhouses? Address? Any information is extremely helpful! Thank you for the information you’ve already relayed!

  13. 3:26pm July 10 2009
    Valérie permalink

    Well for sure , the electronic alert system of the Loudoun Sheriff’s office need to be better. I received the first alert to stay inside at 2h30 pm. A lot had already been going on at the time…

  14. 3:02pm July 10 2009

    I have to tell you that there is an incredibly interesting angle to this that points out how valuable a “hyper-local” news site like this is. Information that got posted here and elsewhere on the Internet actually alerted several people to the danger and very likely helped significantly with how the hostage issue was resolved. Not gonna say more right now, but I’m pretty amazed at how all this transpired and how these tools got used.

    Not sure if I want to head out around town with the camera again anytime soon though. Last two times I’ve done that, BB&T got robbed and I watched some dude pop a cap at a neighbor. Maybe the camera work should take a break! :p

  15. 1:46pm July 10 2009
    erod0924 permalink

    WOW, My wife and kids were just a few blocks from there and saw the helicopter circling around. thank god for this website or else we would never know what was going on!! Ironically i jsut found out that the Owner of the Jewelery shop is the sister of a co-worker!! Keep us posted Please!!

  16. 1:26pm July 10 2009
    etcpro permalink

    WOW, what a surprise description of the suspect. I was expecting it to be a white male wearing all white carrying a large bulky rifle..Ha…HA…

  17. 1:01pm July 10 2009
    Pete Garvey permalink

    Chuck, Wow, thanks for the update. We are hearing helicopters everywhere and heard from a friend in the police department that something along those lines happend. Regretfully, there is no update from the Loudoun County email system.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Foot Patrol Update | LeesburgTalk
  2. HoodaThunk?: “Active incident” in southwest Leesburg? (Update – armed suspect at large in the area.)

Comments are closed.