Virginia State Police and FBI agents on Friday afternoon searched the home of the tractor-trailer driver who was shot and killed after leading police on a chase across three counties on Wednesday night, according to local media reports in Virginia.
Around 2 p.m. Friday, at least six law enforcement vehicles and a Virginia State Police mobile headquarters were parked near a home along Fadley Road in Weyers Cave, Va. Property records indicated that the home being investigating was owned by Joshua Blessed, according to WHSV-TV in Harrisonburg.
Weyers Cave is less than 15 miles southwest of Harrisonburg.
Blessed was initially identified as a Harrisonburg, Va., resident, but property and court records show his home listed at 1114 Fadley Rd. in Weyers Cave, according to the Staunton News Leader.
The FBI’s Richmond Field Office told the television station that Virginia State Police and FBI agents were jointly investigating Blessed’s property to “conduct lawful searches,” the station reported.
An FBI spokesperson told WHSV that additional information could not be confirmed, citing the active investigation.
“Although alarming for community members, there is no threat or further concern for their safety,” the spokesperson told WHSV.
The Livingston County Sheriff’s Office is working to put together the past 24 hours or so of Blessed’s life before last Wednesday’s encounter, which began in Le Roy and zig-zagged its way for 46 miles across Genesee, Wyoming and Livingston counties with multiple exchanges of gunfire and multiple police vehicles damaged.
“What was his last 24 hours? What led to such an extreme encounter with police,” Livingston County Sheriff Thomas Dougherty said at a Thursday press conference. “Some answers, we might never have.”
Blessed, who had previously been known as Sergei Jourev before changing his name around 2005, was driving a truck to Batavia to retrieve dairy products for his employer, Yurman Express, LLC of Harrisonburg.
A village of Le Roy Police officer had stopped Blessed, 58, for a speeding violation at 8:37 p.m. Wednesday on Route 5 near East Bethany Le Roy Road.
Just over an hour later, Blessed was dead, leaving a trail of destruction behind and police searching for answers.
Blessed had refused to respond to police officers when stopped in Le Roy.
“He would not roll down his window to speak with the officer,” Le Roy Police Chief Christopher Hayward said during a Thursday news conference at the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office in Geneseo. “Simple directions, he would not comply with the officer.”
Blessed drove away while one Le Roy officer was still on the truck. The officer jumped from the moving rig and was not injured, Hayward said.
The tractor-trailer smashed into a Le Roy patrol car and a Genesee County Sheriff’s patrol car as he continued driving west to Batavia where he did a U-turn near Seven Springs Road, drove back toward Le Roy before turning right onto Route 19 and then Route 63, passing through Pavilion, Covington in Wyoming County and then into Livingston County. The pursuit reached speeds of 70 mph as it crossed Route 36 in Greigsville, where the posted speed limit is 30 mph.
It was in Geneseo that Blessed began firing shots at police, hitting one patrol car 10 times, and in another a bullet pierced the windshield of a Genesee County Sheriff’s patrol car, missing the deputy’s head by inches.
More rounds were fired when the pursuit stopped on the exit 8 ramp of Interstate 390, where two more patrol cars were smashed. The truck drove south on Interstate 390, made another U-turn to the northbound lane and returned to exit 8 – and more gunfire – and back onto Route 20A, west toward the village. As the truck neared Applebee’s, deputies fired more shots and the rig went off the road and into a field.
“When he started taking shots at our cops … when he was trying to kill our deputies, that’s when we decided to use lethal force,” Dougherty said.
Blessed was dead when officers approached the cab.
Blessed’s body was taken to the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office on Thursday. He suffered multiple gunshot wounds, police said, but it was not yet clear if the fatal shot was self-inflicted or came from a law enforcement weapon.
Investigators recovered one handgun from the cab of the truck. They did not provide specifics on the gun.