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Police find 'active explosive device' in car during traffic stop on Ashe Boulevard

RICHMOND — Virginia State Police found an “active explosive device” in an SUV driven by a Chesapeake man during a traffic stop on Arthur Ashe Boulevard on Sunday morning.

As of 2:30 a.m., police said a 22 year-old-male from Chesapeake was only cited with reckless driving, correcting an earlier statement about charges placed against him.

Earlier Sunday morning, state police said the man was also charged with one felony count of “manufacture, possession, use, etc., of fire bombs or explosive materials or devices,” but corrected that information nearly two hours later.

“The explosives charge has not been placed and this remains an active investigation,” a Virginia State Police spokesperson said in a corrected release sent at 2:20 a.m. Sunday. VSP’s original release was sent out at 12:47 a.m.

State police said troopers pulled over a Toyota Rav4 that was heading the wrong way on Arthur Ashe Boulevard near The Diamond at 9:30 p.m. Saturday. The driver attempted to flee and struggled with troopers, according to both releases.

Police said an incendiary device was in the man’s possession. A state police bomb technician confirmed it was an active explosive device, according to VSP’s initial release.

Police later said in the corrected release: “After further examination by a State Police bomb technician, the canister was confirmed to be a legal munition.”

Troopers also found a hand saw, wooden shields, a gas mask and a shovel fashioned into a spear in the man’s possession.

The investigation remains ongoing, VSP said.

Also on Sunday, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney announced the hire of a new chief of police, Gerald Smith, who comes from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police department in North Carolina. Smith will take the post July 1.

Smith succeeds interim Chief William “Jody” Blackwell — whose brief tenure was defined by criticism over his killing of Jeramy Gilliam in 2002 while on duty (authorities cleared him of wrongdoing). Blackwell succeeded ousted Chief William Smith.


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