Eight hour standoff in Sussex County

By Terry Harris

According to an account from Sussex County Sheriff Ernest Giles, at approximately 6 p.m. on Sunday, October 23, a call was received from a Waverly woman concerning a family member, Ricky Fowler,  who was believed to have taken some pills and had indicated his intent to take his own life.

Deputies escorted the woman to his home at 1706 Old Forty, Waverly, knocked on the door and called out several times.  When there was no response the woman unlocked the door and the deputies discovered that there was a chair jammed underneath the doorknob.

When they attempted, still calling out to the occupant, to push the door open by shoving the chair back, a shot rang out and a bullet flew through the door between the two deputies.  

The two retreated with the woman to safety behind the vehicles and the deputies notified the Sheriff who, along with other deputies, came to the scene and secured the perimeter.

When Fowler did not respond to multiple calls from a loud hailer on one of the patrol vehicles  for several hours , Sheriff Giles determined that the removal of two AC window units was necessary in order to  determine what was occurring inside.    

At that point, the Sheriff said, he contacted the  VA State Police requesting their Tactical Team as well as an  Armored Vehicle. For several more hours, although repeated attempts were made to contact the man inside by phone and text, he continued to refuse to respond or come out.  

Finally the VSP used the battering ram mounted on the front of the armored vehicle to force the door open, at which point another round was fired from inside the house. Subsequently, several aerosol o.c. (pepper spray) cannisters were launched into the residence, but according to Sheriff Giles, the subject was still reluctant to surrender to authorities. 

The standoff lasted from 6 p.m. until approximately eight hours later when,  at or about 2 a.m., Fowler finally was taken into custody.

“Everybody’s ok right now,” Sheriff Giles said. “He is currently detained in our custody being medically checked.”

“He had sent a video out to family and friends indicating his intention to commit suicide,” Sheriff Giles continued, “and that’s how we knew that he was suffering from a mental crisis.  Two shots were fired, but none were returned from law enforcement. I’m just glad that this incident came to an arrest with no one injured.”

“I greatly appreciate the assistance of the Virginia State Police,” he added. “Without them, I don’t think that we could have actually, safely apprehended him, as, had we been forced to approach the door again without their armored vehicle, I believe there would have been an exchange of gunfire.  I am truly grateful for their assistance and that it ended with no one injured.”