Sheriff identifies man killed by deputies in SW Virginia chase

Johnson City Press • Updated May 9, 2018 at 6:17 PM

ABINGDON, Va. — Three sheriff’s deputies shot and killed a man Tuesday after a chase through Washington County, Sheriff Fred Newman reported in a news release.

Newman identified the dead man as Phillip Cameron Gibson II, 37, Castlewood, and said Gibson had a criminal record of 23 felony convictions, including multiple counts of grand larceny, eluding police, aggravated assault and weapons and gun violations.

“As sheriff of Washington County, Va., for the past 18 plus years, it is obvious the level of criminal violence has escalated,” Newman said in the release. “When offenders stop utilizing weapons against law enforcement, we as law enforcement will not have to utilize deadly force to protect ourselves and the law-abiding citizens.”

The Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation was investigating the shooting, and the three deputies involved were placed on administrative leave pending the outcome.

About 7:30 p.m., a Washington County Sheriff’s Office patrol sergeant saw a vehicle on West Main Street in Abingdon that allegedly had been used in a burglary the day before at a residence in the lower end of Washington County. A .357-caliber Magnum handgun and prescription narcotics had been taken from the residence.

After the deputy stopped the vehicle and began speaking with the driver, Gibson fled, prompting a chase up Main Street, through various back streets and onto Cumming Street, where the vehicle headed north on Interstate 81 at exit 17.

Newman reported the vehicle exited I-81 with law enforcement in pursuit. It continued on traveling south on Enterprise Road then east on U.S. Highway 11. Gibson then made a left on Maple Street near exit 29 in Glade Spring and continued on various roads in and around Glade Spring.

Authorities deployed spike strips on a number of occasions, and finally a Glade Spring police officer was successful. The vehicle slowed to about 35 mph heading south on Maple Street, where a Virginia State Police Trooper forced the vehicle to turn. The vehicle came to rest against a utility pole at the intersection of Va. Highway 91 and U.S. 11.

The sheriff said witnesses reported the driver exited his vehicle and tried to get into at least two other vehicles. Newman said a weapon was seen in Gibson’s hand before he ran across U.S. 11 with deputies chasing him on foot. Gibson ran up an embankment toward a convenience store, tripped and fell.

At that point, deputies saw the gun in Gibson’s hand as he turned and pointed it at them. The deputies fired multiple shots, killing Gibson, Newman said.

No officers from any of the agencies involved were injured during the chase or during the shooting.

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