Missing man who walked away from Petersburg mental health facility

Family mourns man killed in Richmond Police shooting

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RICHMOND, Va. -- The man Richmond officers shot and killed Tuesday morning was identified as Alexander J. Schoessel, 23, of Chester. Schoessel was wearing a kilt and carrying a small ax when he charged at officers near 3rd and Main Streets in downtown Richmond, police said.

After a Taser proved ineffective, officers fired their weapons at Schoessel. He was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

"I know that my whole family is wishing that we all would have reached out to him more, if only we had one more conversation, no matter how hard," Schloessel sister posted on Facebook Wednesday morning. "We don't get a last conversation with Alex, that time has passed."

Schoessel's father said he and his family were having a tough time processing the loss. He added this was not the son they raised and that the family was extremely heartbroken and still in shock.

Several people who saw Schoessel walk from Belle Isle to 3rd and Main Street Tuesday morning called police reporting that Schloessel was acting in a threatening manner.

Meagan Kreiner, who encountered Schoessel on Belle Isle at about 9:12 a.m. -- 45 minutes before police shot him -- said he appeared to be acting fairly normal, despite his look -- shirtless, wearing a kilt, and carrying a blade.

"As I was walking on the trail, there was a dude walking toward me in full Scottish garb. He had long flowing hair and a beard. He was quite handsome," Kreiner said. "[I thought] This is weird even for Richmond."

Alex Schoessel on Belle Isle (PHOTO: Meagan Kreiner)

Alex Schoessel on Belle Isle (PHOTO: Meagan Kreiner)

As Schoessel approached, Kreiner said she saw him put away his knife or blade.

"I laughed it off. There was nothing in his body posture, even the knife, that seemed intimidating," she said. "I looked him in the eye and said good morning. He replied, "nice tats' [referring to her tattoos]."

Kreiner said she was surprised to find out later that Schoessel had threatened other people and police officers.

"If there was something like a mental illness or drugs involved, I guess that would absolutely be a possibility," she said.

Police have not yet released information about Schoessel's state of mind at the time of his encounter with officers.

Witness Carter Lowery said Schoessel was marching down the street like he was "mad at the world."

He said he watched Schoessel sprint at police after the Taser was deployed, and that he smashed a window on a police car. That's when police fired.

"Although it is early in our investigation, from what I’ve seen and heard, these officers behaved with the utmost professionalism and courage," Chief Durham said. "I believe they acted with restraint until they were called upon to use greater force."

The two Richmond Police officers who fired weapons were identified as:

Nicholas Pechstein, 28, Patrol Officer, 8 months of service

Joshua Sanborn, 24, Patrol Officer, 8 months of service

"They get out of their cars, ‘Sir, you need to put the weapon down!'" Lowery recounted. "They open their doors and they're behind the doors like clearly something is about to happen."

One Richmond Police Officer was hurt during the gunfire, Chief Durham said. Durham said it appeared the officer was injured by friendly fire. The officer, who had on body armor, was treated and released from the hospital.

That officers was identified as John Rotondi, 43, Patrol Officer, 12 years of service.

"I am grateful that Officer Rotondi was not seriously wounded," Chief Durham said. “He is a fine officer – one we rely on to train our newer officers so they learn the proper way to do the job.”

The Richmond Police Force Investigation Team (FIT) collected evidence and interviewed eyewitnesses to the shooting. They will also analyze video recorded from the officer's body cameras.

The FIT report will be given to Chief Durham for review and then submitted to the Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office.

"The videos will be released once the C.A.’s Office has made its determination," a Richmond Police spokesperson said.

Timeline of Events

9:12 a.m. -- Alex Schoessel encounters Meagan Kreiner on Belle Isle. Kreiner said Schloessel did not appear threatening towards her.

9:31 a.m. -- Police begin to receive multiple calls for a man on Tredegar Street carrying a knife and possibly an ax.

Alex Schoessel on the Canal Walk

Alex Schloessel on the Canal Walk

9:41 a.m. -- Construction workers at 5th and Tredegar streets call police to report Schoessel threatened them.

9:50 a.m. -- Calls to police report a man armed with weapons at 5th and Cary streets

10:05 a.m. -- Police encounter Schoessel at 3rd and Main streets. He was still armed with weapons, police said and they attempted to use de-escalation techniques to get him to release the weapons, but he did not. Police then deployed a Taser, but it did not work. Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham said at that point police used their service weapons.

10:31 a.m. -- Schoessel is pronounced dead at the hospital

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