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Last week’s shooting near Hague concerns community

Multiple Westmoreland County schools were placed in lockdown last Wednesday following a shooting that occurred in a residential neighborhood located approximately three-quarters of a mile from Cople Elementary School.
Word of the shooting spread through the community as quickly as the landing of the one or more helicopters charged with transporting the gunshot victim to Mary Washington Hospital. Reports immediately circulated that an armed suspect had fled into the nearby woods on foot.

State Police and dogs assisted the Westmoreland Sheriff’s Office in the ensuing search, but the suspect still had not been found when this edition of The Journal went to press.
On Nov. 23 a Sheriff’s Office spokesperson told The Journal that a shooting had taken place in the Cabin Ford subdivision in Hague near the Cople Elementary school.
According to the spokesperson, the Sheriff’s Office received a call at 11:52 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 18. Cople Elementary school was put on immediate lockdown since the shooting took place so close to the school and the suspect left on foot, the Sheriff’s Office deputy reported.
The Sheriff’s Office additionally identified the victim as 25-year-old Tyrell O’Neal Brown of Northumberland County. Brown was reported as being in stable condition. There has been no arrest and the investigation continues.
Initial statements from the Westmoreland Sheriff’s Office indicate that the victim was shot in the head and was in critical condition.
The first reports on the ground have not been officially addressed but those reports have consistently maintained that a Washington and Lee High School student left school last Wednesday morning to resolve a love triangle problem with his gun.
Unofficial reports have been circulated that the Sheriff’s Office impounded the motor vehicle the suspect abandoned at the scene of the crime.
More unconfirmed reports in wide circulation suggest that the suspect escaped into the nearby woods and used a cell phone to call a friend who subsequently transported the suspect to a location where he would not immediately be found by members of the law enforcement community.
When nearby residents heard the first rumors about the Nov. 18 shooting, many took what they considered prudent measures to protect themselves.
Some of the worried residents placed calls to the Westmoreland Sheriff’s Office requesting basic information about the shooting incident and possibility that an emotionally disturbed juvenile may be roaming the nearby woods with a loaded gun.
The only available Sheriff’s Office statement was the one published in the Fredericksburg newspaper last Thursday. Citizens quickly realized that they were on their own.
Despite improvements in communications technology, the Westmoreland County Sheriff’s Office has not yet implemented a workable mechanism for disseminating information to the public during a potential public safety emergency. Citizen questions still have not been addressed.

Betsy Ficklin
The Journal

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