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Suspect accused of firing shots at police

By MELINDA WILLIAMS

melinda@southwesttimes.com

ELLISTON — A vehicle pursuit that started in Montgomery County and ended in Salem Wednesday led to charges against a Salem man who allegedly fired multiple shots at law enforcement during the chase.

The series of events began around 2:25 p.m. when Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office received a report of someone brandishing a firearm at employees of Elliston Food Mart on Roanoke Road. The sheriff’s office notified Christiansburg Police Department, which attempted to stop the suspect’s SUV as it entered the town, according to Christina Edney, Christiansburg public relations director.

Edney said the suspect, identified as Michael B. Lilly, 39, brandished a firearm at the Christiansburg officer and then fled the scene. Officers pursued Lilly to the Spradlin Farms area, where he turned around, drove back across the bypass and onto I-81.

Lilly exited the interstate at Exit 137 and headed toward downtown Salem, according to Edney. The pursuit ended around 2:58 p.m. when the SUV crashed on Riverside Drive. Lilly was taken into custody, then released to emergency medical services, which transported him to Lewis Gale Hospital Salem for treatment of wreck injuries.

According to police, the suspect fired multiple shots out the driver side window at law enforcement officers during the pursuit. Edney said no officers were hit by gunfire, nor did any of them fire their weapons.

“Due to the danger the suspect poses to the community [officers] have been sitting with him at the hospital” since he was taken there, Edney said. She noted Lilly’s condition prohibits him from being transported to the magistrate’s office. As such, warrants have been obtained, but not yet served on him.

Lilly is charged with on count of eluding police, a Class 6 felony; one count of brandishing a firearm, a Class 1 misdemeanor; one count of reckless driving, a Class 1 misdemeanor, and six counts of attempted aggravated murder of a police officer, a Class 2 felony. Each Class 2 felony carries a sentence of 20 years to life in prison.

In addition to Christiansburg police, Edney said Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, Salem Police Department and Virginia State Police responded to the pursuit. The investigation is continuing and additional charges may be filed.

According to information posted on Montgomery County, VA Scanner Feed at the time of the pursuit the suspect was reported to have robbed Elliston Food Mart of chips and a drink. The Scanner Feed Facebook page follows dispatching information broadcast over Montgomery County’s police and emergency services frequencies.

Wednesday’s pursuit was the second in Montgomery County in a week’s time. Four New Jersey residents were arrested in the Jefferson Forest area of the county Saturday, Sept. 4, when state police pursued a vehicle into the county around 8:13 p.m.

Capt. Brian Wright said the sheriff’s office was called to assist state police with the pursuit of a vehicle allegedly stolen out of New Jersey. He said deputies were advised the suspects were involved in an armed robbery in New Jersey and that they were considered armed and dangerous.

The pursuit ended at 8:32 p.m. when the suspects abandoned their vehicle on Benoit Drive and fled on foot. Wright said one of the suspects was taken into custody, but a perimeter was established to contain the other three suspects. The sheriff’s office, state police, Blacksburg Police Department and Virginia Tech Police Department maintained the perimeter while the area was searched by ground and drone.

Although the perimeter was closed around 1:15 a.m. Sunday, the sheriff’s office maintained a presence in that area. Police located and arrested a second suspect at 5:24 a.m. and the final two suspects were arrested at 8:18 a.m.

All four suspects are being held without bond on fugitive warrants. They are identified as Tristan W. DiFilippo, 18; Dajuan K. Pittman, 20; a 16-year-old male juvenile, and a 17-year-old female juvenile.

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