Edited by Dan McDermott
Posted at 9:45 pm
Aug. 22, 2022 (FRONT ROYAL, Va.) — Local authorities say a man brandished a gun during an altercation at Royal Plaza Shopping Center this afternoon before fleeing toward E. Criser Road and eventually into Shenandoah National Park.
As a precaution, Ressie Jeffries Elementary School and Samuels Public Library were placed on lockdown.
Both town and county law enforcement released statements minutes apart this evening asking that anyone with information pertaining to the initial incident involving the alleged suspect should call the Front Royal Police Department at 540 635-2111.
From the Front Royal Police Department:
Earlier today at approximately 2:07 pm, Front Royal Police Department officers responded to the Royal Plaza Shopping Center, located on South Street, for a report of a white male brandishing a firearm. Witnesses in the area advised that a group of people were attempting to fight when one of the individuals pulled out a light tan gun. When this incident occurred, an off-duty Front Royal police officer was alerted of the altercation while in Fitness Evolution. The off-duty officer ran in the suspect’s direction but could not locate him. The suspect ran south on the walking trail behind Fitness Evolution and Rural King heading towards E. Criser Road.
The Warren County Sheriff’s Office K-9 officer was called to assist in tracking the alleged suspect, while additional calls were made to lock-down Ressie Jeffries Elementary School and Samuels Public Library. The K-9 was able to track the suspect into the wooded area into the Shenandoah National Park. The suspect is described as being a white male with short brown hair, wearing gray sweatpants and a white t-shirt. The suspect did not have any shoes on.
Anyone with information regarding this case should not hesitate to contact the Front Royal Police Department at (540) 635-2111.
From the Warren County Sheriff’s Office:
Late in the school day on August 22, 2022 the Ressie Jeffries Elementary School was placed on lockdown while Front Royal Police Department and Warren County Sheriff’s Office tracked an individual that had an altercation in proximity of Rural King and allegedly displayed a handgun. The white male, wearing grey sweatpants was last seen running towards Criser Road, out of an abundance of caution for student and staff safety, Ressie Jeffries Elementary was placed on a lockdown due to the proximity and nature of the incident.
Warren County Sheriff’s Office tracking canine (K9) followed the suspect, and the track indicated he had entered Samuel’s Public Library. The library was searched by Law Enforcement and the suspect was not found to be inside. The canine (K9) then picked up the track which led out of the area, and away from the school and library. Once the school was secure, the Warren County Sheriff’s Office assisted the Ressie Jeffries Elementary School Administration efforts to release students safely back to their parents.
The Warren County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources for their assistance, and especially thank the administration and staff at Ressie Jeffries Elementary along with the parents of the students for the way they responded and cooperated with authorities.
The Warren County Sheriff’s Office, Front Royal Police Department, and Warren County Fire and Rescue Services recently completed joint training with the Warren County School Senior Leadership where such a coordinated response was discussed. Major Jeffrey Driskill Sr. described this ongoing collaboration as being very successful, and wanted to thank School Superintendent Chris Ballender and his staff for their emphasis on school safety. Major Driskill also wants to recognize the staff at the Samuels Public Library for their cooperation during this incident. The Samuels Public Library has become very active with the Sheriff’s Office this year and the public should feel comforted that they also are involved with higher level emergency management planning in conjunction with the Warren County Local Emergency Planning Commission (LEPC).
Any information pertaining to the initial incident involving the alleged suspect should be referred to the Front Royal Police Department at 540 635-2111.