Man shot by police on Skyline Drive identified

Lanum was wanted for attempted homicide at military base

By Roger Bianchini
Managing Editor
Warren County Report Newspaper

The man killed Sunday, March 8 in a shootout with police at the north entrance to Skyline Drive following a pursuit within Shenandoah National Park has been identified as 25-year-old Christopher N. Lanum, a US Army Specialist at Fort Eustis, Virginia, outside of Newport News.

In a March 11 press release jointly issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Park Service, and the Virginia State Police, Lanum was identified as both the shooting victim and as a suspect sought for an attempted homicide of a fellow specialist at the Fort Eustis military installation earlier that day.

“At approximately 11:35 a.m. Sunday, the National Park Service and Virginia State Police attempted to stop a 1999 Ford minivan as it traveled southbound on Skyline Drive within the Shenandoah National Park. A pursuit ensued southbound and then northbound on Skyline Drive. The van finally stopped for police approximately 1/10 of a mile south of the exit for Route 340 in Warren County,” the joint press release issued at 5:54 p.m., March 11 stated. “The driver of the minivan, Christopher N. Lanum, 25, of Fort Eustis, Va., was wanted by Fort Eustis officials for an attempted homicide that had occurred early Sunday morning at the military installation.”

An initial statement issued by the Virginia State Police several hours after the incident stated that park rangers identified the minivan as the vehicle a BOL (Be On the Lookout) had been issued for. Park officials then issued a call for backup and a chase ensued northbound on Skyline Drive culminating within site of its intersection with Route 340 just south of Front Royal. The vehicle driven by Lanum encountered a roadblock manned by Virginia State Police and some local units of the Warren County Sheriff’s Office. Front Royal Police units were also at the scene.

“As the trooper and other law enforcement approached the stopped van, they observed a firearm in the driver’s possession. Shots were fired and Lanum was pronounced dead at the scene. A passenger inside the minivan was injured during the shooting. The passenger’s injuries are not considered life-threatening,” the March 11 press release states.

It is believed the minivan’s tires may have been blown out. Warren County Report staff photos taken at the scene within minutes of the shooting showed a blue pickup truck sideways on the shoulder of the southbound entrance lane directly behind the minivan. Lanum’s shrouded body lay outside the van’s driver’s side door on the grassy shoulder. The driver side headlight was damaged and the front and middle passenger side windows appeared to have been blown out by gunfire.

According to the press release, as of March 11 the investigation was ongoing, with Fort Eustis officials and the United States Attorney’s Office of the Western District assisting FBI, Park Service and the Virginia State Police. “Investigators are continuing with evidence collection and analysis, as well as awaiting lab results on toxicology and ballistics tests,” the press release concluded.

What is Ft. Eustis?

According to the base website, “Located in Newport News, VA, Fort Eustis houses the chief of Army Transportation, Army Transportation School, Army Aviation Logistics School and Army Training and Doctrine Command’s Deployment Process Modernization Office. Today Fort Eustis is one of 16 Training and Doctrine Command Installations.

Historically, “Fort Eustis was known in colonial times as Mulberry Island. It was the residence of John Rolfe, husband of Indian Princess Pocahontas. Mulberry Island and the surrounding acreage was purchased by the US Army on March 7, 1918, in response to World War I. It became Fort Eustis and a permanent military installation in 1923. In 1931 it became a federal prison, primarily for bootleggers. Fort Eustis was reopened as a military installation in August 1940. Currently it lists 5,205 active duty personnel, 23,043 military family members and 4,266 civilians in its 23604 zip code.

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