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Berryville man sentenced to 90 months, required to forfeit firearms for illegal possession of guns, distribution of cocaine

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Cironta Commander, who pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession with the intent to distribute cocaine, was sentenced this week in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg to 90 months in federal prison and ordered to forfeit his firearms, Acting United States Attorney Daniel P. Bubar, Ashan M. Benedict, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Washington Field Division, and Jarod Forget, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Washington Division announced today, March 24, 2021.

Cironta Rayshon Commander, 22, of Berryville, Virginia, pleaded guilty in December 2020 to one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and one count of possession with the intent to distribute and distributing 28 grams or more of cocaine base.

According to court documents, on January 27, 2020, an officer with the Berryville Police Department initiated a traffic stop of Commander. As the officer returned to his cruiser to investigate a potential discrepancy in Commander’s paperwork, Commander sped from the scene at a high rate of speed. When the defendant approached an intersection, he failed to stop at a stop sign and drove into a grassy area between an apartment building and a tree, where there were people present in the common area. As the defendant reentered the roadway, he drove toward a dead end and crashed into a tree.

Commander attempted to flee the scene on foot while carrying a backpack but was detained. In a search of the backpack, officers found a loaded Smith & Wesson, 9mm, semi-automatic pistol containing five rounds of ammunition. In addition, officers found approximately 3.66 oz. of marijuana, $4,738 in cash, a bundle of clear plastic bags commonly used for narcotics distribution, and a small plastic bag of white powder with 2.19 grams of powder cocaine. At the time of his possession of the firearm, Commander was a previously convicted felon prohibited from legally possessing a firearm.


Local police executed a search warrant at the defendant’s residence in Berryville, Va., on February 3, 2020. In the basement of the residence, officers found three rifles and $4,392. In the closet in the master bedroom, agents located a shoebox with an additional $11,000 in cash.

Additionally, during the search of a Cadillac Escalade parked in the driveway, agents recovered an access card for a storage unit in Stephens City, Virginia. Agents went to that location and learned the unit had only been leased following Commander’s arrest. After obtaining a search warrant of the location, agents recovered a variety of narcotics, including 191.64 grams of fentanyl, 32.96 grams of heroin, 349.47 grams of powder cocaine, and 181.83 grams of cocaine base.

The investigation of the case was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Berryville Police Department, the Virginia State Police’s Northwest Virginia Regional Drug Task Force, the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office, and the Office of the Clarke County Commonwealth’s Attorney. Assistant United States Attorney Christopher Kavanaugh prosecuted the case for the United States.

Berryville man pleads guilty to illegal possession of a firearm, distribution of cocaine

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Crime/Court

Purcellville man arrested for discharging firearm on Frederick County traffic stop

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A Purcellville man was arrested today after the firearm he was handling, during a traffic stop, was fired while a Frederick County Sheriff’s Office deputy was approaching his driver’s window.

At 10:05 am, Deputy A. Cilento observed a grey VW passenger car, with no registration displayed, in the 600 block of Front Royal Pike. Deputy Cilento initiated a traffic stop and the vehicle pulled off Rt 522 and onto Front Drive. As Cilento exited his cruiser, and approached the suspect vehicle, he observed three small children in the backseat before hearing the distinct sound of a weapon being fired. Deputy Cilento immediately notified dispatchers that the subject had just “discharged a firearm” and requested additional units.

Deputy Cilento drew his service weapon and gave the driver verbal commands as the suspect dropped the gun onto the floorboard. With additional units arriving on scene, the suspect was removed from the vehicle and detained. Units began checking the wellbeing of the three children and one adult passenger. Luckily, no one was struck by the round which exited out the bottom of the suspect’s vehicle, past Deputy Cilento, and coming to rest beside the left front tire of his sheriff’s office cruiser.

The suspect was identified as Daniel Zachary Cook of Purcellville. Cook made statements to investigating deputies indicating that he removed the weapon from his center console because he “seen what cops do to white and black people with guns”. As far as firing the weapon, Cook stated he was attempting to hide it when it went off. Cook’s passenger, Douglas Burke of Winchester, is the father to the three children present who range from ages 2 – 7. Burke stated he asked Cook what he was doing when he removed the gun from the console and, when Cook made the statement about what cops do, Burke demanded that Cook put the gun away.


It remains unclear why Cook would remove the weapon from the locked console in the first place if his intent were to simply hide it. Sheriff Lenny Millholland is both thankful and extremely concerned with today’s event. “Can you imagine if one of those small children would’ve been hit by this stray bullet on its way out of that vehicle?” Sheriff Millholland said before adding, “I truly believe this individual had it in his mind to harm my deputy when he pulled that gun out of that console after being pulled over. It is sad how the men and women of law enforcement are being perceived and treated these days.”

Cook was taken to the regional adult detention facility where numerous warrants, to include reckless discharge of a firearm, brandishing and carrying a concealed weapon, were obtained and served. Charges for the reckless endangerment of the three children were sought but denied by the Magistrate on duty who held Cook without bail.

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Church Street shooting incident results in charges against local woman

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The woman who appeared at a June 2020 Front Royal Town Council meeting with props to publicly criticize then-Mayor Eugene Tewalt and then Town Councilman Chris Holloway’s 2020 mayoral campaign opponent and Royal Examiner Publisher Mike McCool for participating in or filming a ribbon-cutting at the Virginia Beer Museum to celebrate reopening from eased COVID pandemic restrictions the day before a bikini motorcycle wash event, was arrested Monday, March 29 on firearms charges.|

Above, Alisa Carson makes a case against a Va. Beer Museum bikini ‘bike’ washing event, as well as then-Mayor Tewalt’s participation in and Mike McCool’s media coverage of the museum’s pandemic-related business reopening ribbon cutting. It was later pointed out the two events occurred on separate days. Below, Carson’s March 29 booking photo at RSW Jail. Royal Examiner File Photos – Mug shot RSW Jail website

 

Alisa Nichole Carson, 41, is charged with “reckless handling of a firearm” and “unlawful discharge of a firearm, missile in, at occupied building”. She was booked into RSW Regional Jail at 11:58 p.m. Monday night and released the following morning at 8:38 a.m. on a $5,000 unsecured bond. She has a hearing date in Warren County General District Court scheduled for May 4, on the 10 a.m. docket.

A check at the General District Court Clerk’s Office offered no other detail on the circumstance or address at which the incident occurred, other than that the Front Royal Police was the arresting agency. A subsequent check with FRPD provided an address of 17 Church Street as the site of the incident, which may have evolved from a domestic situation.


Prior to her June 2020 Public Comments appearance before the town council, Carson had been seen at Warren County Republican Committee meetings, occasionally seated next to now Mayor Holloway. Friday, committee officials verified her past membership and a district committee chairmanship they believed is still active.

Alisa Carson and Chris Holloway at a 2019 Warren County Republican Committee Meeting.

Her June 2020 public criticism of the moral values of Beer Museum proprietor David Downes for hosting a ‘Bikini Bike Wash’ and sideswipes at Tewalt and McCool for their presence at the Virginia Beer Museum ribbon cutting was interpreted by some observers as, at least in part, a not-too-subtle promotion of then-Councilman Holloway’s Republican Committee-endorsed campaign for mayor.

 

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Not ‘our’ Chris Holloway drunk and disorderly in Shenandoah County

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Wednesday and Thursday, March 31 and April 1, Royal Examiner was contacted by multiple readers inquiring about a rumor, or forwarding “news” to us, that Front Royal Mayor Chris Holloway had been arrested in Shenandoah County Wednesday, March 31, on drunk and disorderly charges.

A quick check of the RSW Regional Jail website’s Inmate Locator function indicated that a Chris Holloway had, indeed, been booked into the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren County Regional Jail on March 31, after 11:34 a.m. Drunk in Public, Profane Language and Intoxication from Drug charges had been filed against him.

RSW Jail mug shot of Chris Eugene Holloway, from March 31, 2021, arrest … Photo RSW Jail website

However, it was a Chris E. Holloway, not Chris W. Holloway, the latter who is the town’s mayor, as verified by the above jail booking “mug” shot.


… Not to be confused with Chris William Holloway, Mayor of Front Royal. Photo from Town of Front Royal municipal website

Glad to clear that little misunderstanding up for our readership and the mayor as a “tabloid” public service announcement. Contacted by email Thursday afternoon as he was between meetings, Mayor Holloway noted that he had been forwarded a Facebook social media screenshot asserting that he had been arrested on the above charges. And while he noted the post was later removed, a subsequent visit to the “Personal Blog” page revealed no visible correction to the initial assertion the mayor had been arrested.

“I think it’s sad that we have people that have nothing better to do than to stir hate and rumors throughout our community,” the mayor said of unsubstantiated public assertions he had been arrested.

And the mayor verified his middle initial “W” stands for William, not Eugene.

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Frederick County Sheriff’s Office: Incident with barricaded subject ends peacefully

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On March 31, 2021, at approximately 3:35pm, a woman approached two Frederick County sheriff’s deputies stating that her husband had just assaulted her and locked her out of her residence located at 127 Brandy Ln. The victim, Tonya Redmond, informed the deputies that a protective order was also in place, against the male, restricting him from being at the residence.

Following up on the claims of assault, and violation of the protective order, the deputies approached the residence and attempted to make contact with the subject inside. The deputies reported hearing sounds of someone yelling, throwing objects and destroying property. While attempting to make contact, the male subject made it clear that he would not comply or cooperate with their efforts. During this time deputies heard what sounded like the racking of the slide of a shotgun and backed away from the residence to await the arrival of additional units.

Further information from the victim indicated that her husband, John Redmond, had been drinking and did have access to a shotgun and a .22 caliber rifle. Further attempts at contact with Redmond were unsuccessful as additional sheriff’s office resources were dispatched to the area for a barricaded, and possibly armed, subject. An Incident command post was established on the parking lot of the old Food Lion shopping center as members of the FCSO Crisis Negotiation Team and the sheriff’s office SWAT team responded to the call. Numerous attempts at establishing contact with Redmond were initially met with statements of resistance to any law enforcement efforts.

While members of the CNT unit continued to try to establish two-way communications with Redmond, warrants were obtained on the subject and a search warrant for the house was issued. After almost 3 hours from the start of this incident, Redmond stopped responding verbally and had not been seen. At this time, members of the FCSO SWAT team deployed chemical agents in an effort to force Redmond out of the residence without success. It was decided that entry would be made into the residence after which Redmond was located in one of the bedrooms and taken into custody without incident, at 7:39 pm, bringing a peaceful resolution to this incident.


Redmond was escorted from the residence to a waiting ambulance before being transported to Winchester Medical Center to be medically checked and decontaminated from the exposure to the chemical agents deployed. At the time of this release, Redmond was being released from the medical center and being transported to the regional adult detention facility on charges of domestic assault and violation of a protective order.

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Bentonville man arrested after in-town shooting incidents Wednesday night

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On Wednesday, March 24th at 9:13 p.m., Front Royal Police Department responded to a report of multiple gunshots fired in the 800 Block of N. Royal Avenue. On arrival, officers learned that a male had exited the Knotty Pine Restaurant and fired multiple rounds into the air and had left the area. A short time later, officers were requested in the 200 block of Manassas Avenue for multiple shots fired. Witnesses were able to give a description of the suspects’ vehicle as both Front Royal Police Department and Warren County Sheriff’s Office converged on the area.

The vehicle was located by law enforcement and when the officers activated their emergency equipment, the vehicle failed to stop and a short pursuit ensued. The suspect vehicle crashed into a home in the 100 block of Polk Avenue. There were no injuries reported because of this incident.

Police identified the suspect as 33-year-old Bentonville resident, Christopher Rhoades. Rhoades was arrested on scene and transported to the Rappahannock Shenandoah Warren (RSW) Regional Jail. Rhoades is being held without bond with a scheduled court date of April 6, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. in Warren County General District Court. We would like to thank the Warren County Sheriff’s Office for their assistance in this incident.

Rhoades has been charged with the following:


  • 18.2-286 Shooting in or across road
  • 18.2-56.1 Reckless handling of a firearm
  • 18.2-266 Driving a motor vehicle while intoxicated
  • 46.2-817 Eluding Police

Anyone with any further information is asked to contact Front Royal Police Officer Z. Wallace at (540) 635-2111 or by email at zwallace@frontroyalva.com.

Christopher Allen Rhoades of Jones Farm Road, Bentonville, Va. – Courtesy Photo RSW Jail

Name: Christopher Allen Rhoades
Description: 6’02” white male, brown hair, and blond hair

(From a release by FRPD)

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Three Baltimore men charged following Front Royal shooting

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Three Baltimore men face multiple charges following a non-fatal, officer-involved shooting in Warren County Thursday night:

• Darius J. Coleman-Galloway, 32, is being held at the RSW Regional Jail without bond on one felony count of malicious injury to a law enforcement officer, one felony count of assault and one felony conspiracy count of possession with intent to manufacture/sell/distribute a Schedule l/ll drug.

Darius J. Coleman-Galloway, 32

• Donate M. Glenn, 26, is being held at RSW Regional Jail without bond on one felony conspiracy count of intent to manufacture/sell/distribute a Schedule l/ll drug.


Donate M. Glenn, 26

• Everette W. Schwartz, 31, is still being treated for serious, but non-life-threatening, injuries at Winchester Medical Center. He has been charged with one felony conspiracy count of possession with intent to manufacture/sell/distribute a Schedule l/ll drug. Schwartz is also wanted by the Baltimore Police Department on multiple arrest warrants, including counts of murder.

The incident occurred at approximately 8:30 p.m. Thursday (March 11) when the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force was conducting an undercover narcotics operation involving Coleman-Galloway, Glenn, and Schwartz. The three had traveled together from Baltimore, Md. to deliver an illegal supply of Fentanyl at a prearranged location in a parking lot in the 9800 block of Winchester Road near the Interstate 66 interchange in Front Royal.

As the task force members, who were standing in the parking lot, positioned themselves around the suspects’ vehicle – a 2009 Acura TL – in order to take the men into custody, the Acura purposefully rammed one of the task force investigators. The Frederick County Sheriff’s Office investigator was knocked to the ground and the Acura accelerated in an attempt to flee the investigators. The vehicle did a u-turn in the parking lot and headed back towards the investigators when task force officers fired at the suspects. The vehicle then ran off the edge of the parking lot, went up an embankment, and came to a stop.

The driver, Coleman-Galloway, and backseat passenger, Glenn, were taken into custody without further incident. Neither one was injured.

Schwartz, who was seated in the front passenger seat, was aided out of the vehicle and EMS was called to the scene for injuries he sustained in the shooting. He was then transported to the hospital for treatment.

The Frederick County Sheriff’s Office investigator suffered minor injuries and was transported to Warren Memorial Hospital for treatment. No additional law enforcement was injured.

One of the task force investigators who fired his weapon is a Virginia State Police special agent assigned to the Culpeper Field Office. Per state police policy, the special agent has been placed on leave pending the investigation.

The Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Appomattox Field Office is conducting the investigation into the officer-involved shooting, which remains under investigation. Additional charges are pending for the three Baltimore men.

Once the investigation is completed, state police will turn its investigative findings over to the Commonwealth’s Attorney for final review and adjudication.

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Upcoming Events

Apr
13
Tue
10:00 am Mah Jongg “Players Club” @ Warren County Community Center
Mah Jongg “Players Club” @ Warren County Community Center
Apr 13 @ 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Mah Jongg “Players Club” @ Warren County Community Center
Players will enjoy several hands of Mah Jongg against skilled opponents. This club meets on Tuesdays from April 6, 2021 through April 27, 2021 from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at the Warren County Community[...]
6:30 pm Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Apr 13 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
This class is for all fitness levels and anyone who is looking to have fun dancing to a variety of music styles from hip hop to swing to salsa, all while EXERCISING! This class will[...]
Apr
17
Sat
all-day Shenandoah Epic @ Caroline Furnace
Shenandoah Epic @ Caroline Furnace
Apr 17 all-day
Shenandoah Epic @ Caroline Furnace
This tried and true Epic 24-hour AR will test your biking, paddling, trekking, and navigation skills as you explore two state parks (one of them brand new!) and national forest lands. Join soloists and teams[...]
9:00 am Basic Pistol Shooting Class @ Warren County Community Center
Basic Pistol Shooting Class @ Warren County Community Center
Apr 17 @ 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Basic Pistol Shooting Class @ Warren County Community Center
The Warren County Parks and Recreation Department and Defensive Firearms of Virginia, LLC will be holding a Basic Pistol Shooting Class for those interested on Saturday, April 17, 2021 from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.[...]
10:00 am 2nd United States Cavalry – Civi... @ Sky Meadows State Park
2nd United States Cavalry – Civi... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Apr 17 @ 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
2nd United States Cavalry - Civil War Encampment @ Sky Meadows State Park
Get up-close and personal with history. Immerse yourself in the sights, sounds and smells of a Civil War Encampment. Interact with the 2nd US Cavalry as they perform daily tasks of the Union soldiers. Activities[...]
Apr
18
Sun
9:30 am Forest Bathing Walk @ Sky Meadows State Park
Forest Bathing Walk @ Sky Meadows State Park
Apr 18 @ 9:30 am – 11:30 am
Forest Bathing Walk @ Sky Meadows State Park
Join Kim Strader, ANFT Certified Nature and Forest Therapy Guide, for a gentle walk (no more than a mile or two) where we will wander and sit. Through a series of invitations and prompts, we[...]
10:00 am 2nd United States Cavalry – Civi... @ Sky Meadows State Park
2nd United States Cavalry – Civi... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Apr 18 @ 10:00 am – 2:00 pm
2nd United States Cavalry - Civil War Encampment @ Sky Meadows State Park
Get up-close and personal with history. Immerse yourself in the sights, sounds and smells of a Civil War Encampment. Interact with the 2nd US Cavalry as they perform daily tasks of the Union soldiers. Activities[...]
Apr
20
Tue
all-day Mad Science Kit @ Warren County Community Center
Mad Science Kit @ Warren County Community Center
Apr 20 – Apr 23 all-day
Mad Science Kit @ Warren County Community Center
The Warren County Parks and Recreation Department Mad Science Kit contains experiments that focus on fun, interactivity, and entertainment. Participants ages 6-12 will be able to perform four (4) experiments, including Dyed Carnations, Lava Lamps,[...]
10:00 am Mah Jongg “Players Club” @ Warren County Community Center
Mah Jongg “Players Club” @ Warren County Community Center
Apr 20 @ 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Mah Jongg “Players Club” @ Warren County Community Center
Players will enjoy several hands of Mah Jongg against skilled opponents. This club meets on Tuesdays from April 6, 2021 through April 27, 2021 from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at the Warren County Community[...]