An Albemarle County man charged in a May heavy gunfire incident on The Corner, adjacent to the University of Virginia, had a slew of related charges dropped during a Thursday hearing in Charlottesville General District Court.
Rahiem Ladu Bolden, 28, was arrested on May 28 by Charlottesville police following reports of heavy gunfire at 12:07 a.m. that day in the 100 block of Elliewood Avenue, according to a news release at the time of arrest.
Bolden initially was charged with use of a machine gun for aggressive purpose; reckless handling of a firearm; 12 counts of discharging a firearm in public spaces; shooting at a train, car, vessel, etc.; possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance; and possession of a firearm while in possession of a controlled substance.
However, during Thursday’s hearing, the commonwealth opted to drop all but five of the charges: one felony count of use of a machine gun; one felony count of possession of oxycodone with the intent to sell; one felony count of possession of narcotics while in possession of a firearm; one misdemeanor count of reckless handling of a firearm; and one misdemeanor count of unlawfully discharging a firearm.
Appearing virtually from the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail, Bolden sat masked in front of an jail logo, remaining largely silent as several city police witnesses were called.
The first witness called was Sgt. Todd McNerney, who was working the midnight shift on the night of the incident.
According to McNerney’s testimony, he was filling out paperwork in his patrol car when he heard several gunshots come from the Elliewood Avenue Parking Garage area.
“As I walked up the sidewalk toward the garage, I saw a white sedan driving toward me with smoke coming out of its front left,” he said. “I told the driver to stop and the vehicle passed me before pulling over into a lot.”
The driver got out with his hands raised and said he was not the one doing the shooting, McNerney said. After telling the man to stay put, McNerney said he heard more gunfire and saw a heavyset Black man fire “at least one shot.”
The man, whom McNerney later identified as Bolden, made eye contact and then ran, the officer said. Bolden then ran into Coupe’s, a restaurant and bar, where he was eventually detained, McNerney said.
The second officer called to testify, Ryan Blackwell, testified that he participated in collecting a firearm. After being pointed toward the direction of the weapon by bouncers from Coupe’s, Blackwell said he located it in an alcove in an alleyway.
Corp. Christopher Huber was the third police witness called, testifying that he arrived after Bolden had been handcuffed. Huber said he realized that, though Bolden had been detained, he had not yet been searched. After conducting the search himself, Huber said he located 20 pills in Bolden’s pocket and was told by Bolden that they were his prescribed Percocet pain medication.
Huber testified that the pills were stored in a knotted plastic bag that, coupled with the $240 found on Bolden, appeared likely to indicate possession with intent to distribute. However, during cross-examination, Bolden’s attorney, Bryan Jones, pointed out that a heavily prescribed user of a pain medication could take as many as 10 pills in a day, which Huber agreed was true.
“A dose could be as little as one pill but could also be more than one, depending on the person,” Jones said.
The last police witness called was Detective Justin Bowers, who testified to statements made by Bolden following his arrest. According to Bowers, Bolden told him that after a couple of women got into an argument near the parking garage, gunfire started. Bolden admitted to firing during the incident, but did not indicate who else was involved, Bowers said. During cross-examination, Bowers confirmed that bullet casings for multiple bullets were found at the scene.
Bowers also testified to the weapon located after Bolden’s detention, which matched his description of a Glock. The weapon had been modified to be fully automatic and had an extended stock, Bowers said. However, per an evidential photograph, most of the rounds were still in the firearm when it was located.
“I can’t say how many rounds were for sure fired based on the image, but there are still multiple bullets in the magazine,” Bowers said.
After listening to the evidence, Judge Robert H Downer Jr. granted the commonwealth’s motion to certify the five charges. Bolden’s case will be considered by a Charlottesville Circuit Court grand jury on Aug. 16.