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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
540-483-5113
Fax: 540-483-8013

Hunt defends actions
In handling of Agee incident

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

By MARTINSVILLE BULLETIN -

Franklin County Sheriff Ewell Hunt said Wednesday that he and his officers did "everything possible" to prevent one of his deputies from allegedly shooting his ex-wife Monday morning.

"I can assure you that both myself and members of the Franklin County Sheriff's Office did everything possible, with the information that we had at the time, to alert the appropriate authorities as to the situation regarding Mr. Agee," he wrote, referring to Franklin County Deputy Jonathan Agee.

"Moreover, both I and other members of my office attempted to contact Mr. Agee by every possible means, in order to prevent the tragic events from occurring this past Monday," Hunt added.

Hunt's statement was issued Wednesday night in response to the publication that morning of a 911 dispatcher's call log of events Monday morning, when Jennifer Agee was shot to death at a Sheetz on the corner of Orange Avenue and Williamson Road in Roanoke. Agee's ex-husband, Jonathan Agee, has been charged with her murder.

Virginia State Police also allege that Jonathan Agee shot state police Sgt. Matthew Brannock, a Henry County native, after Brannock pursued him on Interstate 81 in Montgomery County. Brannock was released Tuesday from a Roanoke hospital.

Shortly after Brannock was wounded, Jonathan Agee was shot by two state police officers. He was taken to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, which has not released information about his condition.

Hunt said in the statement that the call log, reported by the media Wednesday, is not complete because it records time stamps when information is entered, not when the event described actually occurred. Such a log also is a summary of information relayed through dispatch, not what actually transpired, Hunt said.

According to Hunt, he first learned of the situation Monday when he received a call from Steve Agee, Jonathan Agee's father, telling him that his son's wife, Julia Angell, had called Steve Agee and said Jonathan Agee had left home "in an agitated state with guns in a marked car." Steve Agee asked Hunt for his help, the sheriff's statement said.

Agee's father asked Hunt to call Agee because "'he will listen to you,'" Hunt said Wednesday in an interview.

Hunt repeatedly tried to call Jonathan Agee without success, he said. Eight minutes after he said he received the first call from Steve Agee, Hunt said he called Franklin County dispatch and was told that Angell had called to report her husband left home saying he allegedly was going to kill his ex-wife.

Because he had been told that Jennifer Agee lived in Salem, Hunt said, he called the Salem dispatch at 11:18 a.m. to alert police there to what was happening. He said he used the phone because it was "the quickest method possible."

The sheriff said he told a Salem dispatcher he needed to speak to a supervisor immediately. Hunt said he was told a supervisor would call him back.

Hunt said he was communicating with Franklin County Sgt. Lewis Wimmer to send units to Agee's home in case he returned there and to activate the sheriff's office Tactical Team.

Officers attempted to locate Agee using the GPS unit in his police car but learned that the car's GPS had been disabled, according to Hunt.

The Salem Police Department returned Hunt's call at 11:31 a.m., he said in the statement. That was right around the time Jennifer Agee was shot in Roanoke, according to state police accounts.

Hunt denied that he ever canceled a "be on the lookout" order for Agee.

Hunt said he called Salem dispatch directly by phone because it was the "most expeditious way to contact them."

Hunt said that "at no time did we ever have any indication that Mr. Agee was capable of such a horrific act."

However, he said Agee's alleged action "does not, and shall not reflect badly upon the members of the Franklin County Sheriff's Office, who are the best law enforcement personnel in the commonwealth of Virginia."

Hunt called Monday's events "a terrible tragedy."

"All of this has had a profound effect on all of our lives both here in Franklin County, our sheriff's office Personnel and the Virginia State Police personnel," he said.

 
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