His trial was scheduled to begin this week, but last Thursday, in what some considered a surprise move, Richard Corey Sellers, 28, of Alexandria, pleaded guilty to all charges filed against him; five felonies and one misdemeanor.
The felonies included attempting to assault a law enforcement officer, possession of a firearm while attempting to assault a law enforcement officer, assaulting a firefighter, possession of crack cocaine and possession of a firearm while in the possession of crack cocaine. The misdemeanor charge is for discharging a firearm.
The incident that led to the charges happened on April 19, 2003, at approximately 6:45 p.m. Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Brian Porter, presented the facts of the case for the Commonwealth at Sellers’ plea last week.
According to officials, two people were in a pick-up truck on North Jordan Street when a Lexus sedan struck the truck from behind. The impact of the crash caused the truck to pinwheel so that it came to a stop headed southbound with the driver’s door against that of the Lexus. The passenger in the pick-up was able to get out but the driver was stuck behind the steering wheel. He used his cellular phone to call 911.
Three people were inside the Lexus. The driver and one of the passengers fled the scene. The other passenger, Sellers, got out of the Lexus, reached back into the vehicle and retrieved a semiautomatic pistol, which was loaded with at least six rounds of ammunition. Sellers walked to the middle of the street and put the firearm on the ground. A few seconds later, he returned to the firearm and picked it up.
A group of four concerned citizens had, by this time, gathered at the scene. They watched Sellers pick up the gun and fire a round up North Jordan Street, apparently not aiming at anyone. They continued to watch as Sellers began pacing around the crash scene. One of the onlookers knew that Alexandria Deputy Police Chief Joe Hilleary lived nearby and went to get him. Hilleary, who was off duty and taking out his trash at the time, grabbed his firearm and his police radio and called the dispatcher and reported what he knew. Hilleary went to the crash scene on foot.
AT ABOUT THE same time that Hilleary arrived, firefighters and paramedics also arrived on the scene. Firefighters who saw that Sellers was bleeding, stopped to provide assistance because they did not see his gun. The firefighters tried to calm Sellers by talking to him. Hilleary approached Sellers and placed his hand on Sellers’ gun. Hilleary identified himself as a police officer and instructed Sellers to drop the weapon. Sellers refused. Hilleary and a firefighter attempted to tackle Sellers but he was able to throw them both off and started to run away. While fleeing, Sellers turned and fired a shot toward Hilleary and the firefighters. Sellers jogged around the Lexus and pointed his weapon at Hilleary once again. Hilleary fired a warning shot but Sellers did not put down his weapon.
Sellers walked around the pick-up and stopped at the passenger’s side where another firefighter was providing assistance to the driver. Sellers raised his firearm and pointed it at the firefighter inside the truck.
According to officials, the defendant was startled by a blast of a horn on the fire truck and began walking toward Hilleary with his weapon raised. Sellers fired two to three rounds in Hilleary’s direction. Despite repeated warnings, Sellers would not drop his weapon. Finally, Hilleary shot him in the leg and Sellers fell to the ground.
When Sellers was taken into custody, he spit out five items from his mouth, which were later determined to be five rocks of crack cocaine.
Sellers faces up to a maximum of 34 years in prison. He will be sentenced on April 20.