A shooting occurred on the 2300 block of Purple and Gold Way on Tuesday night, according to a press release from the Harrisonburg Police Department (HPD). There were no reported injuries.
According to the press release, an HPD officer responded to a report of threats at approximately 8 p.m. at a residence on Purple and Gold Way. While an officer was speaking with the complainant, the suspect who the complainant knew fired rounds from a vehicle toward the residence and fled the scene.
Although multiple rounds struck the residence feet from the officer and complainant, the press release said neither the officer nor the individual speaking to the officer were struck. Several additional officers came to the scene and secured the area.
The press release said that due to the immediate danger to nearby residents, a shelter-in-place order was sent through the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Emergency Communications Center (HRECC). The order told residents in the area to continue to shelter-in-place until an all clear was given.
The shelter-in-place order was lifted at approximately 9:55 p.m.
The HPD Major Crimes Unit identified the suspect as John Fitch, 21, of Henrico County, Virginia. The press release said HPD requested assistance from agencies like the JMU Police Department, Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office and Goochland County Sheriff’s Office.
Mary-Hope Vass, director of communications and university spokesperson, said in an email that in a situation like Tuesday’s incident, the JMU Police Department can help with traffic control, securing perimeters, responding to calls throughout the city and performing other duties as needed.
Alongside six or seven officers on the scene was JMU’s Vice President for Student Affairs Tim Miller, but he deferred comments from the university to Vass.
On the night of the incident, students watched from nearby balconies as the scene unfolded. After Fitch was identified by students, his photo was widely circulated.
“He looks like such a normal guy,” a student sitting on a balcony across the street said.
The HPD obtained warrants against Fitch for attempted capital murder of a police officer and attempted capital murder. According to the press release, Fitch was found inside his vehicle deceased from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The incident is still under investigation by the HPD Major Crimes Unit.
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