Vehicle Pursuit (Update) – Event date: April 02, 2022
This is an update to the Community Briefing dated April 16, 2022, pertaining to the ongoing investigation of the events related to Mr. Ralph Ennis and his contacts with the Warren County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) that occurred in the County of Warren, Virginia between March 11 and April 02, 2022.
Contrary to an earlier media report, the first time the WCSO had contact with Mr. Ennis was on the morning of March 11, 2022. On that day, Ralph C. Ennis (age 77), was entered as a Silver Alert – missing and endangered person by the Pennsylvania State Police. Active attempts to locate him confirmed his cellular phone was active at 10:24 AM, and moving southbound along Interstate 81 from the City of Winchester into Warren County. This information was broadcasted to WCSO deputies, who began vigorously checking various areas throughout the county in an attempt to locate Mr. Ennis and his silver 2020 Ford Ranger pickup truck with a Pennsylvania registration, starting in the area of the Riverton Commons shopping center.
The broad area search continued until 12:30 pm when WCSO Deputy C. Anderson located Mr. Ennis’ unoccupied Ford pickup near Chester Street and Main Street in the Town of Front Royal. The Town of Front Royal Police Department was notified, and WCSO Sergeant C. Brown located Mr. Ennis at the Main Street Pawn at 12:40 PM.
According to the WCSO report of this incident, Sergeant Brown spoke with Mr. Ennis and he seemed confused and was aware of his current location, although not sure of the town he was in. Sergeant Brown made contact with the adult son of Mr. Ennis, who resides in Staunton, Virginia, and informed the son of the situation. The son advised he was willing to pick up his father at approximately 06:30 PM. Sergeant Brown, acting out of concern for Mr. Ennis and not wishing him to remain unattended for six hours, self-elf-initiated contact with the Virginia Department of Social Services and advised them of the situation. Sergeant Brown requested to have Mr. Ennis brought to social services and was informed social services would not be able to facilitate this due to their staffing shortage.
Sergeant Brown continued to seek a viable and safe solution for the care of Mr. Ennis after his family was unable to pick him up in a timely manner. Sergeant Brown spoke with a local businessman who graciously offered to let Mr. Ennis stay at his shop until his family arrived to assume care for him. Sergeant Brown then contacted Social Services and advised them that a safety plan for Mr. Ennis was developed, and he had a temporary safe and supervised place to remain. This was coordinated with both social services and the family of Mr. Ennis. The Pennsylvania State Police was notified at 01:51 PM of the safe recovery of Mr. Ennis and he was removed from the alert system.
Major Jeffrey Driskill recognizes Sergeant Cade Brown, Deputy Chris Anderson, and his canine partner Rooster, the many assisting deputies, and the 911 Communications Center dispatchers for their steadfast and professional efforts in locating Mr. Ennis on March 11, 2022. “This office has a proud and proven track record of responding to the urgent need to locate missing and endangered persons, particularly our seniors” stated Major Driskill. This year alone, the WCSO has spent hundreds of manhours searching for, finding, and assisting persons who are missing, endangered, suicidal, and sometimes have no one to properly care for them. According to Sheriff Mark Butler, some of these efforts have involved the coordinated efforts of many, many mutual aid partners “that provide a deeply caring and human response to the need of persons who require our help the most.”
There was no further contact with Mr. Ennis by the WCSO until the early morning pursuit of Mr. Ennis by the WCSO deputies, with the assistance of the Town of Front Royal Police Department on April 02, 2022, at 01:21 AM. Major Driskill confirmed Mr. Ennis subsequently was in the care of two local hospitals and hospice between April 2, 2022, and the early morning hours of April 15, 2022, when the WCSO was made aware of his death in the care of Blueridge Hospice of Winchester, Virginia.
The WCSO wishes to confirm several very important facts to ensure the public is aware Sheriff Mark Butler and his office are not only being as transparent as possible, but they are being proactive in every legally acceptable manner. This corrects an inaccurate and misleading media report as well as misinformation on social media.
Not only has the Sheriff’s Office welcomed the criminal investigation being conducted by the Virginia State Police, but this office had also already contacted the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office and requested a special prosecutor be assigned in assisting the state police, which was confirmed by Mr. John Bell as a best practice for legal scrutiny. The WCSO was also the agency first requesting the autopsy of Mr. Ennis, which was initiated a short nine and half hours after his death.
Sheriff Butler recognizes this incident will generate public interest, and perhaps scrutiny; however, wants to ensure the community his office is doing its due diligence under the law. This includes the internal administrative review of the pursuit, traffic stop, and the arrest contact by WCSO deputies with Mr. Ennis in accordance with its policies and procedures. To achieve this in an objective and fair manner, Major Driskill confirms that the WCSO will convene a Board of Inquiry to review the use of force related to the detention of Mr. Ennis. This board of inquiry is intended to review all facts or information to resolve an allegation of misconduct in the event of a police shooting, death, or serious injury of an officer or citizen killed or injured incident to any law-enforcement actions.
The board of inquiry will consist of five senior, command staff officers, including a nearby law enforcement agency or the state police. When empaneled, the board will review all the facts and make a recommendation pertaining to any disciplinary action to the Sheriff. The board chairman shall write, in a memorandum to the file, a summary of the proceedings, names of board members, and the board’s recommendations and findings.
Sheriff Butler reminds the public he will refrain from judgment until all the facts have been gathered and evaluated by those tasked with its review, including the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Virginia State Police, and the Commonwealth Attorney’s office.
The WCSO has placed one deputy on paid administrative leave and one deputy was re-assigned to administrative duties, which Major Driskill cautions is not an indication of wrong-doing or fault on behalf of any personnel. It is an accepted professional practice to safeguard personnel, the public, and the process itself. Major Driskill states this is a matter of personnel, and nothing further can be disclosed at this time due to the ongoing concurrent investigations.
National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day – Flags to be flown half-staff
This December 7, we remember the world-changing event known as Pearl Harbor Day, or as President Franklin D. Roosevelt said in his December 8, 1941 speech declaring war on Japan, “a date which will live in infamy.”
Early on Wednesday morning, December 7, 2022, many will gather at Pearl Harbor National Memorial for the 81st Commemoration. The early start marks the moment to the minute 81 years ago when Japanese warplanes descended on Oahu, killing 2,403 service members and civilians, injuring thousands more, and dealing a near-fatal blow to the Navy’s fleet at Pearl Harbor.
Most young Americans who died that day, along with those who served in uniform during World War II or on the home front war effort, are collectively known as the Greatest Generation. Their sacrifices reflect the theme of this year’s Commemoration: Everlasting Legacy.
The focus is the importance of remembering Pearl Harbor and how the Greatest Generation saved us from tyranny and brought us peace through reconciliation.
Governor’s Order for the Commonwealth of Virginia
In accordance with the authority vested in me as Governor, I hereby order that the flags of the United States of America and the Commonwealth of Virginia to be flown at half-staff at all local, state, and federal buildings and grounds in the Commonwealth in solemn respect and memory for the nearly 4,000 American service men and women killed or wounded in the early morning of December 7, 1941, at the United States Navy Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
I hereby order that the flag shall be lowered at sunrise on Wednesday, December 7, 2022, and remain at half-staff until sunset.
Ordered on this, the 6th day of December 2022.
Blue Ridge Wildlife Center Patient of the Week: American Goldfinch
These two American Goldfinches hit the same window at the same time and ended up here at the Center for care.
Though both are currently having breathing difficulty, and the male has significant head trauma with bleeding from the left ear, neither sustained any fractures. They are recovering together while they receive supplemental oxygen and pain medications.
Do you know what to do if a bird hits your window?
Though it was once standard to contain a window strike bird and let it rest for a few hours before attempting release, research has now shown that this is inadequate. Many of the issues we see with window strikes manifest 24+ hours after the strike, long after the bird can fly off.
If you see a bird hit a window, contain it right away and call the closest permitted rehabilitator. Do not release it! In the meantime, take steps to break up the reflections on your windows with tape, paint, or decals spaced no more than 2” apart. Prevention is better than treatment!
A new record!
Yesterday we surpassed last year’s intake number with this window strike pair. We are hopeful that they will soon be released together to enjoy the rest of their wild lives!
If you are looking for an easy way to help native wildlife become a monthly BRWC donor! For as little as $5/month, you can provide year-round, sustainable support that helps us fulfill our mission.
Local grandma steps out of shower, holds intruder at gunpoint until police arrive
A Warren County family had an exciting Monday morning after the family’s matriarch thwarted an intruder who may have intended to steal a family vehicle.
Tricia Montoney told Royal Examiner Monday evening that an eagle-eyed neighbor noticed a man in the family’s driveway, around 7 a.m. standing beside a Ford F-150 pickup truck belonging to Tricia’s daughter, Rachel Montoney.
Rachel said in a phone interview that “once our neighbor told me about the man attempting to enter my vehicle, I ran to get my mom.”
Tricia was in the shower but quickly put on a robe and grabbed the Smith and Wesson 9 mm handgun she keeps for personal protection. She then went outside to confront the intruder. By then, she said, the man was sitting inside the pickup with the door closed.
Rachel says her mom yelled to the intruder, “What are you doing? Get out of the truck and on your knees!” The man, later identified by arresting officers as Larry Huyser, exited the truck and complied with Tricia’s instructions while a neighbor called 9-1-1.
Huyser, who was dressed in a fluorescent green sweatshirt, jeans, and a black hat, said that he had gotten into the unlocked truck “because I was cold.”
Warren County deputies who arrived on the scene found Tricia holding Huyser at gunpoint. He was taken into custody without incident.
Huyser was booked into the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail (RSW) and charged with vandalism, damaging property, tampering and entering a vehicle, and breaking and entering an auto.
He is being held without bond. Online court records show that Huyser has been arrested before for similar offenses.
Both Tricia and Rachel expressed their gratitude for their neighbor and his assistance in contacting the police and for staying with Tricia as she held the intruder at gunpoint.
The Montoneys also appreciated the deputies, who arrived quickly and transported the intruder to RSW.
Asked if she would now lock her truck at night, Rachel said, “Absolutely!”
Both ladies expressed their gratitude that no one was injured and said they were especially grateful for their close friendship with their neighbors. “We take care of each other out here,” Tricia said.
Congressman Ben Cline holds Town Hall meeting in Warren County
Residents of Warren County were invited to a town hall event with Congressman Ben Cline (VA-06) on December 5, 2022. This town hall event was an opportunity for residents of Warren County to engage in a dialogue with Rep. Cline about important issues in Virginia’s Sixth Congressional District.
Watch the Town Hall meeting on this exclusive Royal Examiner video.
Frederick County Sheriff’s Office deputies help rescue horse after fall into pool
On December 2, 2022, Frederick County Sheriff’s Office Deputy’s responded to a residence on Green Springs Rd. in Frederick County. This was regarding an 1800-pound draft horse that fell into a swimming pool. Once on the scene Deputies determined that the horse had knocked over the top rail of the fence around the pool, jumped the fence and walked out onto the nylon pool cover causing the horse to fall into the water. However, its head and part of the body remained above water.
The Draft Horse was in the 9-foot end of the pool. Deputies Cram, ACO Deputy Tasker and Sgt. Hawse started cutting the pool cover away from the horse. Once it was clear of the cover and haltered, the horse was pulled to the shallow end of the pool where it was able to stand and catch its breath. Deputies were able to guide the horse up the stairs to the pool deck and into the yard.
The Veterinarian who handles the horse was called and advised to dry the horse as good as possible, feed it hay and keep it moving. That information was passed on to the owner’s children that arrived on scene. At the time of this email the horse was doing fine.
“You just never know what type of calls we respond to every day. This is one for the books. We are happy that it was witnessed, and we could respond to assist. Deputies were ready to go in the water if needed to make sure the horse stayed above water,” Sheriff Lenny Millholland observed of the incident.
Local doctors take time out to again treat third world country residents of Honduras
For the past 14 years, local Dr. Thomas (call me “Tommy”) Ball has ducked out of Front Royal Family Practice to spend up to two weeks leading a medical team to serve the people of Honduras, one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere.
Dr. Ball – okay, we’ll call him Tommy from here on – has always considered serving the under-served a core mission of his medical practice. For the past 20 years Valley Health has recognized and supported that mission as part of his faculty position at the Shenandoah Valley Family Practice Residency. “Valley Health recognizes that young doctors want to understand Global Health and want to contribute internationally. They allow me to devote time as a teacher to global health issues and they support our work overseas,” he told us.
Medical faculty from around Virginia have formed a nonprofit organization, SAGE (Students And Global Engagement), focused on introducing trainees to a small community in rural Honduras. As Tommy describes it, “We attempt to foster better health among the Hondurans and to expose Americans to the needs people face in a third world setting. It is a two-way street in which both parties benefit.”
SAGE helped build a small mountainside clinic in the village of Pinares, Honduras. They send medical teams for one to two-week stretches three times a year at four-month intervals. The area they serve is approximately the size of Warren County, with similar mountainous terrain. Average take-home pay for the mostly agricultural workers around Pinares is about $3-dollars a day (yes, a day, emphasized Ball).
Medication, some donated by Valley Health, helps patients cope with a variety of diseases including familiar problems such as diabetes, hypertension and arthritis, as well as problems uncommon here such as parasites caused by contaminated water. SAGE tries to go beyond just medication and address the underlying social factors that foster illness. In recent years they have donated monthly food packages to families with young children and filters to improve the safety of drinking water.
This fall the team included Dr. Paulius Mui and Dr. Sean Sutphen from the residency training program and seasoned local physician Dr. Shyama Rosenfeld, as well as support personnel in pharmacy, emergency transport, and anthropology.
Tommy has developed close ties and friendships in the community SAGE serves. He notes that he is older than most volunteers, but hopes he still has a few more years left of visiting and doing his best to improve health conditions in Pinares. “We have the personnel who want to help, but we are always struggling financially,” Tommy said, hoping that local service clubs and other non-profits might see their way to help support SAGE.
If you, the reader, are interested and require additional information, email Tommy at Front Royal Family Practice (firstname.lastname@example.org) or visit the SAGE website (sage-community.com). And yes, you may call him Tommy!