Deputies were the first responders to go into the YMCA to help people there. Others arriving at the scene took positions on the perimeter to secure the scene, and some began searching for potential evidence.
As they day went on, deputies continued to support police efforts by redirecting traffic, controlling access to the crime scene, remaining with witnesses until investigators could interview them, and attempting to calm concerned residents. Sheriff’s Office commanders worked closely with their APD counterparts at the command post (right), and arranged for transportation for Congressional staffers and supplies, like water, for the first responders working the scene.
Later in the day, deputies joined police and fire personnel in going to door-to-door in the community with the Red Cross to check on the welfare of residents and to offer services to those who needed assistance. Sheriff Dana Lawhorne joined Mayor Allison Silberberg, Police Chief Michael Brown and Fire Chief Robert Dubé on a community walk through Del Ray that evening (below). Virginia State Police relieved deputies at most of their posts that first night, but the next day deputies remained involved, mostly working perimeter posts and they continued to assist police and federal agents until the scene was fully re-opened that weekend.
While this incident was highly unusual, the response of the Sheriff’s Office was not. During weather emergencies, special events and critical incidents, deputies regularly respond to assist with traffic and crowd control and other law enforcement functions. This allows police officers to ensure a scene is properly managed and it also frees up officers to handle other calls for service.
Sheriff Lawhorne and members of the Sheriff’s Office were especially touched by the kindness and generosity of the Del Ray community in the hours and days after this incident. Deputies were honored to attend an appreciation event hosted by the Del Ray Citizens Association and to be present when Simpson Field officially reopened for Little League play. Sheriff Lawhorne, who has lived his entire life in Del Ray, was also proud to see Congressman Don Beyer recognize responding APD officers and AFD medics for their truly courageous and life-saving actions.
Following the incident, the Knights of Columbus contacted public safety leaders to invite them and the public to the First Responders’ Mass at St. Rita’s Church on August 14.