Man charged with murdering state trooper
DINWIDDIE, Va. (WTVR)–A Chesterfield man has been charged and remains behind bars without bond in the Thursday death of Master Trooper Junius A. Walker.
Russell Brown, 28-years-old, has been charged with one count of capital murder of a police officer, one count of attempted capital murder of a police officer, and two counts of using a firearm in the commission of a felony, police said in a press release distributed early Friday morning.
Brown, who was not injured in the incident, is currently being held without bond at the Meherrin River Regional Jail in Alberta, Va.
Virginia State Police investigated the scene where Master Trooper J.A. Walker died, off Interstate 85, southbound near mile marker 45 in Dinwiddie County.
Master Trooper Walker, a 35-year veteran of the department, was assigned to patrol Dinwiddie County.
Police said the trooper, shortly before 1:20 p.m. on March 7, pulled up next to a black sedan stopped on the right shoulder of the southbound lanes of I-85, to check on its driver.
Police said that almost immediately, Brown, the sedan’s driver, opened fire on the trooper.
Master Trooper Walker’s patrol car then lunged forward and ran off the right side of the road, coming to rest in the woods approximately 30 feet from the interstate.
A motorist driving past witnessed the scene and called 911 to report a trooper in distress. The first two state troopers to arrive on scene were approximately three miles north of the incident assisting with a VDOT work zone in the southbound lanes of I-85, police said.
One of the troopers witnessed Brown outside of Master Trooper Walker’s patrol car, still brandishing a weapon. Gunfire was exchanged between the responding trooper and Brown, before the suspect fled on foot into the woods.
Other officers joined in the search, and with dogs, tracked discarded clothing and a weapon in the woods, sources told CBS 6. At approximately 1:58 p.m., deputies with the Dinwiddie County Sheriff’s Office took Brown into custody. The alleged cop killer was discovered hiding a half-mile from the crime scene, in an abandoned car near a business, police sources told CBS 6.
State Police said that engine heat from Master Trooper Walker’s vehicle sparked brush, which caught fire. The two responding troopers on scene focused on pulling Master Trooper Walker from his burning vehicle.
The veteran officer, shot multiple times, succumbed to his injuries at the scene. Trooper Walker was taken to VCU Medical Center and officially declared dead.
Virginia State Police spokesperson Corinne Geller made the announcement of his death with tears in her eyes.
Walker had recently been talking seriously about retiring, after 35-years of service (he began in 1973 and had taken some time off).
“If you want to talk about a public servant,” Virginia State Police Superintendent Gerald Massengill said to CBS 6, “that was J.A. Walker. Filled with compassion, he knew when get the pistol out and when to give someone a break. Big in stature, and big in heart.”
Walker, he said, “exuded professionalism” and “demanded respect,” but he also had a great sense of humor.
Police said that the Dinwiddie and Brunswick County sheriff’s offices, the City of Petersburg and Colonial Heights police departments, ATF and US Marshals Service, helped at the scene and to apprehend the suspect.
The southbound lanes were reopened to through traffic at 12:55 a.m. Friday, about thirteen hours after the crime.
Master Trooper Walker is survived by his wife and two adult daughters. He joined the Department March 1, 1973, and spent nearly 30 years patrolling Dinwiddie County.
Among his many honors and recognition during his tenure with State Police, Master Trooper Walker was selected by Southside Virginia Community College as its 2011 Officer of the Year in recognition of his “many years of outstanding and dedicated service and protection the public.”
Master Trooper Walker is the Department’s 59th line-of-duty death for the Virginia State Police in its 81 year history, police said. The department lost Trooper Andrew D. Fox on Oct. 5, 2012, in Hanover County, when he was struck by a vehicle while directing traffic.
But it’s been 20 years since the last trooper was shot and killed. Lonnie Weeks Jr. was executed in 2000, for the murder of Virginia state trooper Jose Cavazos on Feb. 24, 1993.
Stay with WTVR.com and CBS 6 News for the latest updates on the state trooper shooting.