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Name of suspect released in officer-involved shooting at Roanoke County retirement community

By Web Staff, WDBJ7, news@wdbj7.com
Published On: Aug 06 2014 10:35:35 AM EDT
Updated On: Jul 16 2014 09:07:05 AM EDT

David Wright is in the hospital facing charges of attempted capital murder of a police officer and firing into a building.

ROANOKE CO., Va. -

The Roanoke County Police Department has released the name of the man who exchanged gunfire with an officer Monday night at Friendship Retirement Community.

59-year-old Dennis Michael Wright of Roanoke has been identified as the suspect. He was shot during the incident, and is listed in stable condition at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital. Officer P. McMillan was not hurt.

The incident began around 11 p.m. Monday when investigators say Wright fired a shot into the ceiling of the first floor of the health and rehab center and ordered staff to get out.  It’s not clear yet why Wright fired a shot. He does have a family member who is a patient at the retirement community.

Officer McMillan tracked down Wright in the lobby and ordered him to drop both of his weapons. According to investigators, Wright began to comply but then picked up a handgun and aimed it at Officer McMillan. Wright and McMillan exchanged gunfire, and Wright was struck. McMillan was not hurt.

It’s not clear how many shots were fired. Wright was carrying a 9mm semi-automatic pistol and a long BB gun.

Wright is facing several felony charges including attempted capital murder of a law enforcement officer, attempted malicious wounding of a law enforcement officer, use of a firearm in commission of a felony, and two counts of shooting into an occupied dwelling.

The initial 9-1-1 calls reported that Wright was carrying a handgun and shotgun or rifle. The long gun turned out to be a BB gun, and the handgun was a 9mm semi-automatic pistol, which Wright used during the shootout.

Even though Friendship Retirement Community is calling this an isolated incident, officials are still trying to make sure it doesn't happen again.

It took officers approximately 38 minutes to search each room of the health and rehab center, which holds 363 residents.

“At the time of the incident there was a shift change going on. The visitor may have come in during that time, but as far as other details we're still looking into it and investigating it,” said Chris Dodd, who is Friendship Retirement Community’s director of marketing.

Friendship Retirement Community tells WDBJ7 that it has a campus-like setting but there are doors that are locked for the night. It also says it has onsite security at all times, which is patrolling and securing the property.

Here is the news release from the Roanoke County Police Department:

At 11:03 Monday evening, multiple calls to 9-1-1 reported a man with a handgun and shot gun or rifle had entered the first floor of the Health and Rehab Center at Friendship Retirement Community in the 300 block of Hershberger Road, where he fired a shot into the ceiling and ordered staff to get out. The suspect has been identified as David Michael Wright, 59, of Roanoke City.

Within two minutes, Officer P. McMillan was on scene. McMillan was directed to the upper floor where Wright had last been seen. Once there, employees said Wright had gone into the elevator and McMillan ran back to the first floor. Wright exited the elevator and crossed the lobby to the front door where McMillan caught up with him and ordered him to drop his weapons. He complied initially, then proceeded to bend to the ground, stepping towards a handgun which he retrieved and aimed towards McMillan. After an exchange of gunfire between Wright and McMillan, Wright was struck and subsequently transported to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital where he is listed in stable condition. McMillan was not injured. The total number of shots fired is still being investigated.

Warrants have been obtained for Wright, charging him with attempted capital murder of a law enforcement officer; attempted malicious wounding of a law enforcement officer; use of a firearm in commission of a felony; and two counts of shooting into an occupied dwelling. All charges are felony offenses.

The initial 9-1-1 calls reported Wright was carrying a handgun and shot gun or rifle. The long gun turned out to be a BB gun, and the handgun was a 9mm semi-automatic pistol which Wright was using during the exchange of gunfire.

The motive is still unknown but Wright does have a family member who is a patient at the retirement community. It is believed that Wright acted on his own and there were no additional assailants.


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Roanoke County Police, Roanoke City Police, Virginia State Police as well as Roanoke County Fire and Rescue responded to the incident. More than 20 law enforcement units were on scene within a matter of minutes. The entire building, which holds 363 residents receiving short- and long-term rehabilitation, was secured, room-by-room, within 38 minutes.

No officers were injured, nor were residents or employees of Friendship Retirement Community.

County police are continuing their investigation. Anyone with additional information about this incident is asked to contact Sgt. J. Johnson, 777-8689.

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12 p.m. Tuesday update:

Friendship Retirement Community leaders say no one else was hurt in Monday night's officer-involved shooting at that facility in Roanoke County.

A man walked into a building there around 11 p.m. and fired a gun.

Roanoke County Police responded and shot the shooter.

The shooter was taken to the hospital, where police said he was receiving treatment.

We don't know the extent of his injuries, his identity or the circumstances that might have led to this confrontation. Investigators say the man was armed with two guns -- a handgun and a long gun.

The suspect was taken to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital. There is no word on his condition. Police have not released the man's name or what led to him entering the rehab center.

Roanoke County Police have also not released the officer's name. The officer is on administrative leave, which is protocol in situations like this.

WDBJ7 talked to Friendship Retirement Community on Tuesday morning and a spokesperson tells us the facility has officers and security on staff and doors are locked overnight.

The spokesperson says this happened at a time when shift-change was taking place.

Counseling is being offered to employees.

5:30 a.m. Tuesday update:

Friendship Retirement Community leaders say no one else was hurt in Monday night's officer-involved shooting at that facility in Roanoke County.

A man walked into a building there around 11 p.m. and fired a gun.

Roanoke County Police responded and shot the shooter.

The shooter was taken to the hospital, where police said he was receiving treatment.

We don't know the extent of his injuries, his identity or the circumstances that might have led to this confrontation.

This incident unfolded around 11 p.m., when the suspect brought two guns into the first-floor lobby of the Health and Rehab Center on Hershberger Road.

Callers told the 911 center the man had fired a shot.

Police responded and confronted the suspect. An officer shot him.

Friendship CEO Russ Barksdale stressed that no one else was injured.

Barksdale says, "911 was called and police showed up and handled the incident here, but I just wanted for our family and friends in the community to know that, you know, our residents certainly are all safe and well and so is our staff."

Investigators were expected to continue their work most of the night.

12:23 a.m. update:

Roanoke County Public Information Officer Amy Whittaker says an officer was involved in a shooting at Friendship Retirement Community.

Chris Dodd, marketing director for the facility, confirms there was a man with a gun there.  He says the man was subdued by police and is on his way to the hospital.

Check back for more updates.

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We're following breaking news out of Roanoke County.   A Roanoke County official has confirmed to WDBJ7 that there has been a shooting at Friendship Retirement Community.

We have a crew on the way.  Check back for more updates.