Friday, March 31, 2006

The Great Rocky Gap Manhunt - Update and Rundown

Ok, as of a 10:30 AM EST news update on the local ABC affiliate, WOAY, the dude being hunted down by the Virginia State Police AND Bluefield Police has been word yet on where and how. Getting ready to see if the noon news has anything new about the story...and as of 12:03, there is still nothing new. Hmmmmm...

Everything that happened last night was about as surreal as you could get...primarily because:

1. Even though I have lived most of my life in Raleigh, NC, an area in which the crime rate has always been slightly growing, I have never experienced a full-fledged manhunt like the one that happened on my family's property last night. Because of this, I kept joking about how we left the area with supposedly more crime, only to experience crime literally in our backyard.

2. When my dad and I were watching the 5:30 AM early bird edition of the WVVA 6 newscast, we noticed that the high speed chase that led to the manhunt stopped right in front of our own driveway at the bottom of Buckhorn Mountain. According to the news, at approximately 10:59 PM last night, it was right around there that the dude being hunted down fired eight bullets at the officers in pursuit. Apparently AND thankfully, the kid had horrible aim...two bullets hit the officers' car, while the other six totally missed. He also had a female accomplice, who was immediately caught before the manhunt took place.

3. During the said newscast, it was revealed that the criminal's last name was "Tilley"...when that was said, my dad proceeded to tell me the story of this really odd guy named Ryan Tilley. During last summer, he drove up our driveway on an ATV, and came up to our home's front door on the top floor, asking for work. My dad said that he had blond hair, just like Dustin, the wanted man. He also said that Ryan looked to be a little older, and was more than likely Dustin's brother. AND it turns out that they and the rest of their family used to live in the Rocky Gap a house that burned down only three or four months ago. o_O Pretty spooky stuff.


4. My dad and I were doing our nightly pool playing ritual when all of what was described in #2 took place. Around 11:05 or 11:10 PM, right when we had just started either our second to last or last game of the night, we heard a helicopter. For those of you not near the area, for some reason, it is *very rare* to hear helicopters and planes. So needless to say, my dad and I were a bit surprised to hear a helicopter. And since our dog needed to go out, we decided to take that as an oppotunity to find out what was going on. While our dog was doing his business, my dad and I looked at the chopper making its way around our side of the mountain...and for some reason, we didn't think too much of it at the moment. BUT, while my dad was acting like it was nothing to worry about, something creeped me out about how the helicopter was circling around the mountain. And I got to brooding upon it as my dad and I went back to our pool game. Just right before we got back to shooting, I said to my dad:

"Are you sure that they are not looking for a criminal or an escaped convict?"

My dad simply let out a little laugh, and practically told me to not be ridiculous. Famous last words.

So, once my dad and I got through with our pool shooting for the night, I refilled my water cup and took that and the remains of my Diet Cheerwine down with me. Then, for the next hour or so, I did my usual computer activities. During that time, I noticed the helicopter kept circling around the mountain...AND was so close over the house that my bedroom/apartment was vibrating. o_O Very needless to say, I was starting to feel a little, I decided to pay my brother a visit in his room, and see if he was aware of what was going on.

Thankfully, my brother, Justin, had not bathed and gotten ready for bed yet...he was watching the Lakers attempting to defeat the Spurs. I entered his room and asked him if he heard the chopper(s). He told me he did AND that he thought they were circling the mountain, but he wasn't all that least not yet. But that was getting ready to change...

Thirty minutes after I returned to my room, around 12:30/45, the very close helicopter noises and vibrations began to return. And this time, they were considerably the point that as much as I dreaded it, I had to take a look. What I saw made me immediately get Justin, who had just finished his bath: A spotlight from a chopper beaming down upon our pasture, then our yard, and eventually our home's rooftop.

Justin, in nothing but his Monopoly boxer shorts (my *very tiny* attempt at humor in this thing...forgive me) accompanied me to one of the windows closest to my room's entrance in what I like to now call the Ping Pong room, thanks to a somewhat new Ping Pong table we got about a month ago. And there we stood, watching as over the course of five-ten minutes, the whole side of the mountain was eventually bathed in bluish-white light. At this point, Justin told me that we better check the local TV station sites to see if something was being said about either a manhunt or a search for a lost kid or missing person.

I immediately went to the WVVA 6 website, and lo and behold, the following article had been posted AND was in an alert marquee...


A robbery and malicious wounding in Bluefield, West Virginia leads to a high speed chase, one arrest and one suspect at large.

According to authorities, the suspects wrecked at 10:59 pm, in their black Dodge 4x4 in the Rocky Gap area, following the pursuit.

Eight shots were fired at officers, with two hitting an officers patrol car.

One female was apprehended from the vehicle, and the suspect, Dustin Jay Tilley, is still at large

Tilley is 18 years old, 5 foot 8, 160 pounds with green eyes and blonde hair.

He is reportedly wearing camoflage and dark jeans.

Police believe he is also linked to a Cargo convient store robbery in september of last year.

At this point, my heart started to pound to the point where it felt like it was going to jump out of me, and all I could think was...

"Oh, sh*t."

It was bad enough that the helicopters were out in full force like they were, but to know that the man they were after was armed AND not afraid to shoot...Oh. My. GOD.

Justin read the article with me, and he tried to act very calm...but you could tell he was starting to get a bit shaky himself. We went back to the window, watching the choppers and their lights comb the landscape. Five minutes later, as we were trying to comfort ourselves and try to see what was going on, a group of about ten or so officers, each with a flashlight, started to surround the house. One of these officers came up to the window at which me and Justin were standing, and asked to speak to us. When that happened, we knew it was going to be a long night AND that our mother and father, who had amazingly been sleeping through the whole mess, had to be awakened.

My dad somewhat did not believe it was the police at first, and still in a half-dozed off state, yelled what authority did they have to be on our property. Then, my mother came down the stairs, startled awake by the officers knocking on the outside door next to her bedroom. When everything had somewhat been settled about a minute or so later, my dad turned off the security system, let the officers in (during this, our dog went crazy and ran out onto the bottom floor deck/porch...thankfully, my mom was able to grab Chaz and hold onto him), and they inspected the house to be sure that the criminal did not somehow make his way in and hide somewhere. Once that was over, during which the officers got a pretty nice tour of the house, they told us that they were going to comb our property by chopper, foot, and eventually, K-9 unit.

So then, after we turned on all of the outside lights and a few indoor lights along with the security system, it basically became one huge waiting game. From 2:00 to 6:00, I paced all around the house...first alternating from peeking through the master bathroom window at all of the goings-on (including the searching of the barn AND an incomplete "three-walled" house on a nearby hill AND the bringing out of BOTH Bloodhound and German Shepherd K-9 units) with my dad, watching M*A*S*H (the movie) with my mom, and watching the college hoops three-point shooting and slam dunk competition with Justin. And then around 5:00, my dad and I waited for the early bird edition of the local news...which didn't come on until 5:30. And as I mentioned above, we saw how everything started right at our driveway. o_O

After all that waiting for a mere two minute blip, during which they said the criminal was *still* on the loose, I finally decided that I was brave enough to head to bed and try to get a semblance of a nap in before breakfast. And my sleep started out fitful, but I eventually relaxed, and was able to get in a decent two-three hours of rest. *Very needless* to say, I will more than likely be taking a nice nap after lunch.

As I was writing some of this, an officer came by to tell my mother and father that the criminal had been caught AND that he confessed to the robbery, attempted murder, speeding, and trying to take down an officer or two that led to the real long night. So, it is officially official that my family and I can now rest easily...that is until the reporters, be it from the TV stations or even the newspapers (The Bluefield Daily Telegraph and Bland County Messenger) possibly come to ask us questions about our perspective on the whole ordeal. And that happening may not be such a stretch...especially as small as the region is news-wise.


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