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Standoff ends in death
Above, police officers work at the scene following a standoff on Pony Place in Martinsville Sunday evening. After the incident, a man was found dead in a back room of that home. (Bulletin photos by Ginny Wray)
A man was found dead in a Martinsville home Sunday evening after a multi-hour standoff with police.
The man’s name was not released by Martinsville Interim Police Chief Eddie Cassady or Virginia State Police Sgt. Robert Carpentieri at a press conference Sunday night.
The incident culminated a series of reported crimes in Martinsville on Sunday. Cassady would not say the man who died was a suspect in those cases, but he linked them together in a timeline. He added that the public should not be concerned that a dangerous person might be at large.
According to Cassady, the Martinsville Police were received a call at 10:46 a.m. Sunday that a mother and three children who were on their way to church had been abducted and a van taken from the 500 block of Mulberry Road by a white male.
The man had the van drive to the BB&T ATM machine, where $100 was withdrawn, Cassady said. The van then was driven to the Scrub Board Laundromat on Liberty Street where the woman and children were released unharmed, he said.
At 2:03 p.m., the police received a report of an armed robbery at Price’s Minute Market on Bridge Street. Officers found the clerk had been robbed and a car stolen, Cassady said.
At 2:13 p.m., the van from the earlier incident was found on Fayette Street near Pony Place, Cassady said, adding that it was empty.
At 2:26 p.m., the vehicle taken from Price’s was found, empty, at Rudy’s Upholstery on Memorial Boulevard, he said.
Police received information that a subject was in the 100 block of Pony Place, the chief said. Officers responded and made contact with the resident there but found nothing, he said.
Shortly after that, police received a second call that the same subject was inside that same residence, Cassady said. Officers again contacted the resident and received permission to search inside, he said.
After the officers announced they were going to enter, they heard a single gunshot, Cassady said. They had no contact with anyone inside the home after that, he added.
The officers secured the scene as SWAT teams arrived from the Martinsville and Danville police departments, the Virginia State Police and the Henry County Sheriff’s Office, Cassady said.
By 4 p.m., Pony Place was blocked at both ends on Roundabout Road and Fayette Street. Police surrounded the home at 122 Pony Place and kept weapons aimed at the house. A sniper was on the roof of a nearby house, and a police dog was at the scene.
The State Police and Danville Police Department both had armored personnel carriers at the scene. Cassady said the Danville department offered its assistance to the city during the incident, and Carpentieri said the State Police had additional manpower and equipment in the area for the Martinsville Speedway race so it was able to help easily.
“We were blessed” that the race was being held Sunday so resources were nearby, he added.
The Danville vehicle used a battering ram attached to its front to break down the front door of the house, but no one came out.
Later, the State Police vehicle, also equipped with a battering ram, removed a window from the front of the house but, again, no one came out.
Next, a state police bomb robot that was in the area because of the race was brought to the scene. It traveled up Pony Place and to the front of the house. It was equipped with a camera.
“We can’t bring personnel” into the house in a situation such as Sunday’s, Carpentieri said. But the robot could detect movement and the setup of the house so officers could determine how to proceed.
As a crowd of about 50 people watched from further up the street, a SWAT team then entered the house around 7 p.m. Shortly afterward, law officers started leaving the scene. No one explained to the crowd what had happened, and people dispersed.
Cassady said at the news conference later that the white male was found dead in a back room of the house in the 100 block of Pony Place.
Cassady did not release other details of the incidents Sunday, saying more information likely would be released today. He did call it an “active investigation” that was in the early stages.
“We are glad no one else was hurt ... and we are glad we had the resources to assist” the police department, Carpentieri said.