Arrest Made In Parkway ShootingPosted: Updated: April 7, 2010
The man who investigators say shot two people from central Virginia as they watched the sunset on the Blue Ridge Parkway is in police custody. The manhunt ended with a CrimeStoppers tip early Wednesday morning.
Ralph Leon Jackson, a 56-year-old mechanic from Sherando, has been charged with attempted capital murder, attempted murder and two counts of using or displaying a firearm in a felony for Monday's shootings. Investigators say it was Jackson who drove up to the parkway's Rock Point Overlook Monday evening and shot a pair of friends, 27-year-old Timothy Davis of Charlottesville and 18-year-old Christina Floyd of Palmyra, while they were enjoying the peaceful sunset view.
A 2:00 am anonymous CrimeStoppers tip Wednesday led them to Jackson's home. Augusta County Sheriff Randy Fisher says, "The CrimeStoppers tip was crucial, very crucial. It contained detailed information that only the person who committed the crime would have known."
Augusta County Police, Virginia State Police, and FBI SWAT teams surrounded his house all morning. At 3:15 Wednesday afternoon they moved in and took Jackson into custody without a struggle. Sheriff Fisher said, "These guys are good and when they go out to execute, everybody knows their job."
According to Sheriff Fisher, Jackson made incriminating statements during questioning. Fisher says detectives have recovered the shotgun, ammunition, and maroon car used in the shootings. As investigators drove away with evidence from Jackson's house on Howardsville Turnpike Wednesday evening, Fisher announced an end to the search for the parkway shooter. "There is no doubt. We have in custody the person responsible for the April 5th shooting," he stated.
During the attack, Davis fell 150 feet down the overlook. Floyd fought back. She told investigators that Jackson said he was shooting them "because I'm crazy." Sheriff Fisher says, "Two people just go up on the parkway to enjoy the beauty of nature, and someone just pulls up and shoots them. There's no rhyme or reason. We don't know why."
Christina Floyd is in fair condition and improving at the University of Virginia Medical Center. Timothy Davis is also at the medical center and is listed in critical condition with what are said to be "grave" injuries.
Jackson could face federal charges but Sheriff Fisher says that will be determined as the investigation continues. Jackson is being held at Middle River Regional Jail pending a court appearance.
Steve Stinnett , a ranger with the National Park Service, encourages the community to rest easy now that a random gunman isn't loose on the parkway. "People can feel comfortable that this situation is resolved and that they can return to enjoying the parkway as they normally would," he stated.