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Man gets 20 years for shooting spree

A young Fredericksburg man was ordered Thursday to serve 20 years in prison for a drug-induced shooting spree last year in which several shots were fired near city police officers.

Nelson Lee Kennedy Jr., 20, was sentenced in Fredericksburg Circuit Court to a total of 43 years with 23 years suspended. He had already been convicted of attempted capital murder, shooting into an occupied dwelling and using a firearm in the commission of a felony.

According to the evidence presented by prosecutor Kevin Gross, the incident took place the evening of May 25, 2013, in the 200 block of Greystone Court at Fall Hill Apartments. It began after Kennedy and a friend, Marcus Cutchin, consumed a drug referred to in court records as “25–1,” an LSD-type substance.

Cutchin’s sister called for help after Kennedy alerted her that Cutchin was having a bizarre reaction to the drug. When rescue workers and police arrived, court records show, Cutchin was spinning in circles before fainting and falling to the floor. He was taken to the hospital while Kennedy had already gone home.

After conducting a preliminary investigation, Officer Nick Wagner went to Kennedy’s home and was let in by his mother. A short time later, Kennedy fired a shot from his room into a neighbor’s door.

Wagner retreated for cover and police soon surrounded the area. Over the next two hours, Kennedy fired at least 10 shots; one hit a red Saturn in the parking lot, one came close to Officer Mo Cahudri’s cruiser and another hit about five feet from where a woman and her daughter were sitting in their apartment.

In recorded 911 calls, Kennedy told a dispatcher that he shot at police to deter them from coming into his building. He later said he was planning to kill himself but decided against it.

Kennedy’s mother, Lawanda Scott, testified that the incident shocked her as much as anyone. She said she knew her son had smoked marijuana before, but this was something different.

“I was paralyzed,” Scott said. “Ten minutes earlier I was watching television. Now I’m standing here and my son is firing shots.”

Police recovered four guns from Kennedy’s room after he surrendered peacefully to police, including an AK–47 type rifle and a .410 shotgun. His mother said she was unaware the weapons were in the home.

Gross said Kennedy deserved a life sentence. He said Kennedy was “only a few feet” from facing the death penalty and has proven himself too dangerous to be part of the community.

“It was not from a lack of trying that someone wasn’t killed that day,” Gross said.

Defense attorney Mark Gardner asked Judge Gordon Willis for a sentence of 10 years or less. He said that although Kennedy’s conduct that day was “atrocious,” he had no prior criminal record, he suffers from mental health issues and, most importantly, no one was hurt.

Willis said this case once again proves that “drugs and weapons don’t mix.” He said that if not for the “professionalism” shown by police that night, “you might well be dead.”

Keith Epps: 540/374-5404