The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Target practice leads to charges
BY KEITH EPPS
and JEFF BRANSCOME
Three Chancellor volunteer firefighters have been suspended pending the outcome of misdemeanor charges they picked up this week as the result of some stray bullets.
According to law enforcement sources and an email sent to the Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors this week, the incident took place Monday in Snow Hill off State Route 208.
The three firefighters were target shooting with a pistol and a rifle about 200 yards from a woman’s home when at least two of the errant shots struck the woman’s home.
At least one bullet ended up inside the house, Commonwealth’s Attorney Bill Neely said.
He said the men were charged with misdemeanor reckless handling of a firearm because there was no evidence that they intentionally shot at the home.
In addition to being Chancellor volunteers, at least two are career firefighters with departments outside Spotsylvania County.
A Sheriff’s Office spokesman Thursday was not immediately familiar with the case, but Chancellor Volunteer Fire and Rescue spokesman Kevin Dillard confirmed that Nate Johnson, Vince Melton and Joe Williams have been suspended.
Melton is a neighbor of the woman whose home was struck.
In an email sent to supervisors Wednesday, County Administrator Doug Barnes reported that the woman had contacted Fire Chief Chris Eudailey regarding an incident that occurred between 3 and 4 p.m. Monday.
The woman initially thought the rounds had struck only the outside of her home, but she later found “several” bullet holes inside, Barnes said in the email.
Dillard said he talked to all three firefighters Wednesday.
He said any firefighter facing a criminal charge is automatically suspended at least until the matter is resolved in court.
Dillard said the incident had nothing to do with fire department operations and the department will take no further action.
Spotsylvania Supervisor Benjamin Pitts say he’s concerned that the volunteers didn’t follow protocol and notify Eudailey of the charges.
“If she [the resident] hadn’t taken the initiative to report it, I wonder if it would’ve ever been reported,” Pitts said.
“These situations can’t continue to happen as they are. I think the citizens of Spotsylvania County deserve better.”
Keith Epps: 540/374-5404