The hunt goes on

It's the ultimate in overkill, a fully-amorered vehiche with portholes in the side so State Troopers can shoot from the protection inside and a gun emplacement on top that looks like something out of Star Wars.  It's a Virginia State Trooper tactical team personnel vehicle and the Old Dominion's finest have deployed it on the roads of Floyd County to hunt down Southwest Virginia's most-wanted: Steven Dale Branscome.

Branscome was still at large as darkness fell Wednesday night and, if he is not found, the 16 police agengies that have invaded the county expect to have 400 armed and ready officers on the ground.

Some of those who man the armored car have a swagger and attitude to match. Cops call it the John Wayne Syndrome. Thankfully, you don't see that kind of swagger in Floyd County deputies or even most of the State Troopers assigned to our area but it is alive and well on the tactical unit members transported into the area. Floyd County deputies still believe their role is "to protect and to serve." Some of the more aggressive members of the State tactical team members act like their motto is "search and destroy."

When one saw me taking pictures of their toy, he demanded to know what I was doing (which should have been obvious), then wanted to know my intentions and my identification.

His approach brought back memories of an encounter last summer with a member of the Parkway's Criminal Interdiction Team (CIT). My response:

I'm a resident of this county standing in a public parking lot taking pictures of a vehicle bought with public tax money. Any other information is none of your business.

The last time I checked, the Constitution and the rights it protects, still exists.

A Virginia State Trooper tactical team personnel vehicle and the Old Dominion’s finest have deployed it on the roads of Floyd County to hunt down Southwest Virginia’s most-wanted: Steven Dale Branscome.

Branscome was still at large as darkness fell Wednesday night and, if he is not found, the 16 police agencies that have invaded the county expect to have 400 armed and ready officers on the ground.

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21 thoughts on “The hunt goes on”

  1. It amuses me to read the differences in the blogs on this page! There are apparently two categories of people in your area who have read this blog page, those who are not annoyed with my comment to the blog and those that are. I would like to take a moment to point out a couple of differences. A.) I never said that some people in that area were rude or mean to me, I simply stated that being around some of them lowered my IQ. That they were mean to me was an assumption. Do you know what they say about assumption? B.) For those who are big supporters of this Doug person, well… I would just like to point out the language and spelling in the responses they have posted. Thank you to those of you who are Doug supporters. You have thoroughly proven my point!

  2. I find it fascinating that most of those now throwing out insults to Doug and "some" residents of Floyd County are cowards who hide behind screen names. I’ve long admired Doug because he has guts enough to put his name on what he writes and because he doesn’t play favorites.

    Ethel I have no doubt you find some people in Floyd rude. Your attitude and language most likely invited it. You call someone a moron yet you do not have the decency to do so with your full name.

    Checkmate, you talk about the sacrifice of your police officer husband and then throw out insults while hiding behind your screen name. If you are so proud of your husband you should be praising him by name and be proud to list your own. The fact that you don’t makes me wonder if you are even who you claim to be.

    Anyone familiar with Doug’s history knows he is neither an imported liberal nor an "outside" agitator. He’s a Floyd County boy who came home after a long career in journalism. His incredible sports photography and coverage of our county government and the courts have brought much-needed depth to our local paper. As a native Floyd Countian I don’t always agree with what he says but he has the right to say it. He does so without hiding like a coward behind the anonymity of a drive-by blog posting.

    And it doesn’t take much reading of his writings to know he is a strong supporter of our local sheriff’s department and the State Troopers assigned to the county. I suppose that’s why he found the storm trooper tactics of the State Police tactical teams so offensive.

    Doug as one of us, Ethel. You are not and neither are the police who brought intimidation and militaristic tactics to our county.

  3. I lived in Floyd county once. I moved because the stupidity of some of its residents was lowering my IQ. You seem to fit right into that category. This man who is on the loose in your area is obviously not only dangerous but stupid. So for you to complain about the manhunt in your area just doesn’t make sense to me. I do however understand the police using every available measure to ensure their own safety. Maybe we should suggest for the police force to save money and use the owner of this website as a shield, that way they wouldn’t have to waste money on such things as armoured vehicles. The news coverage should be something they are happy to see. For the people who do not know this man, I would think that they would be thrilled that he has become such a common image that they would recognize him right away, for you… well you are probably the one harboring him, that is the only logical explanation I could come up with for your annoyance with the manhunt. Hey, if sharing your stupidity in blogs is the only entertainment you can get in Floyd, maybe you should consider moving. No, wait…you fit right in down there, keep up the good work!

  4. I’m offended by you Ethel. Maybe the people in Floyd are stupid for leaving blogs, but you left one too. Doug often speaks his mind and I don’t agree with him alot of the time but hey thats why this is HIS webpage and HE has the right to voice what HE thinks and you don’t have to read it.I think that if the people in Floyd were not very nice to you I’d say it was your own fault!!!!Floyd is a great place even if we have a few thugs.I presonally don’t agree with Doug on picking on the police but that don’t give you the right to say that All of Floyd is like that.I was glad they cancelled my 5 & 7 year olds practices but I also think that if the police dogs are going potty on the fields the police should respect the Floyd County citizens enough to clean it up..Get over yourself, Ethel!!

  5. In my original comment I stated that I had to move because just being near SOME of the residents in that area was lowering my IQ. I surely didn’t mean to suggest that the area was nothing but ignorant trash such as this moron who writes this blog page or his lackies that read it on a regular basis, I really didn’t mean even that there was a majority of this type of trash. I knew plenty of very normal and intelligent people while living in Floyd. However, the stupidity level of the people like this “downtown” floyd business owner who advertises his ignorance and stupidity on this site seems to grosely surpass that of people in less rural areas. Therefor, I had to remove myself. LOL I really wasn’t attacking the mass in this area, only the ones who read and agree with this man’s moronic ideologies.

  6. Reading Doug’s stuff dosen’t make people like him!!I happen to read his page often but I’d say I am the oposite of him. He happens to do a awesome job on covering the sports at the highschool which is why I usually look on his page. I’m glad to here that you don’t think everybody in Floyd is ranked idiot. I think that there is alot of wonderful people here..I hope one day you can forgive the stupid people and visit Floyd and just enjoy it for what it is….

  7. I think Ethel is absolutely Right On! Although I’ve only lived in Floyd County a few years my husband assured me the residents were really nice. But I see a lot of people like Doug Thompson, liberal aggitators. I wonder if Doug Thompson would have been happy if Trooper Hughes was fatally wounded? Another dead officer, a good one? Trooper Hughes was right when he said God was with him when he got shot. I’m sure S. Branscome tried harder. Too bad police aren’t allowed to shoot in the back like most criminals. Maybe Thompson should move to Indian Valley because I’m sure he would be welcome there. S. Branscome definitely had help from that area. If the police wasn’t there would that community been happier? I bet they would have been screaming for police protection then. All police are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. I reckon even ole Doug Thompson might want one around some time. Hopefully he won’t need one. Do you think those policemen want to be in Floyd 14+ hours a day away from their families? My police husband is there and had to give up our vacation. Am I complaining? No, because I love him and it’s part of his job. He does what he’s told to do. I pray for a safe outcome in all of this.

  8. If you lived here you or your’s might experience heavily armed police searching vehicles, houses, barns and lands. I can understand why citizen’s might question the effectiveness, indeed the propriety of these tactics; this is hardly an issue of hot pursuit.

    If you noticed the time line of Branscome’s travels, and I’m not privy to any more info than the next citizen. Looks like the boy is long gone; and good riddance- might be one of his better ideas.

    Our sheriff hosts these out of town tactical forces; I hope our guests make a contribution to our local budget to compensate for these expenditures; cause when they’re gone we have real issues still left undone. I also hope these forces recognize that almost all of the people they encounter are not affiliated with the offender.

    Last I checked the people of Floyd were not suspects; we have rights of association travel, speech and privacy. I think it appropriate for the press to illustrate and write about the impact of the lawmen, perhaps they will mind their P’s & Q’s. This is called freedom of the press, something we enjoy and protect; whether you agree with this is none of our concern.

  9. Ethel, I could take my blue pencil to your writings here and find a number of grammatical errors but that would be rude and a descent to your level.

    As a teacher, I taught students that those who use words like “moron” to describe others do so as a shield into their own inadequacies and insecurities. Your claims of intellectual superiority are undermined by your own language.

    I don’t always agree with what Doug writes but I find his perspectives a welcome addition to public discourse in Floyd. When I disagree with him, I approach him to discuss such disagreements. He is always gracious and open to debate. He never attempts to degrade the opinions of others.

    I met Doug when he spoke to the Friends of the Library here in Floyd and shared his wonderful photography from his travels throughout the world as a photojournalist. I often see him eating breakfast at Blue Ridge Restaurant or having coffee at Café del Sol and he is always willing to take time to discuss issues that affect Floyd, Virginia or our nation. When my friends and I visit his studio at The Village Green, he offers a cup of coffee and welcomes us like old friends. His wife volunteers at Angels in the Attic and is a charming and beautiful lady. Both donate much of their time and resources to local charities and causes.

    I respect the man’s opinions even in disagreement because I know the man who expresses those opinions does so with an obvious passion for justice and fair play. I do not know you Ethel because you choose to hide your identity. I do not know if you have a personal grudge against Doug but it appears you do. When I read Doug’s observations about the events of the past week I find true concern about the safety of the citizens of Floyd County. When I read your writings, or those of Charles or a minority of others here, I find hate, prejudice and bile. Those expressions of rancor are far more offensive than anything ever written here by Doug Thompson.

  10. I tried to respond via email to some comments posted here by Charles Y. but his email bounced back because he used a phony email address.  His previous posts have been deleted because we require a valid email address for posting but his comments are welcome here if and when he provides a valid email address and chooses to post under his real name.

    This discussion has shown me that people too often use anonymity to insult others.  That’s too bad and may lead to requiring all posters to use their real names. Opinions can be more carefully considered when they come from a known source.

  11. A few weeks ago, while waiting for a table in Oddfellas in Floyd, my wife and I were discussing a recent item written by Doug Thompson in Blue Ridge Muse. As a native of Franklin County, I was upset over some comments he made about the Klan and Franklin County. I felt he was unfair and a couple of glasses of wine increased my anger and the volume of my complaints.

    Finally, I turned to the gentleman standing next to me and asked: “What do you think of this Thompson guy?”

    He smiled and shook his head. “Oh Lord,” he said, “Don’t get me started on him.”

    I smiled. I had found a kindred spirit in Floyd.

    “I think he’s an arrogant asshole,” I said.

    “Absolutely,” he said. “A committee should be formed to run him out of town. I’ll be glad to contribute to such a committee if you want to set one up.”

    A hostess came to show us to our table and our conversation ended. He chose to stay in the lounge and eat. When the waitress brought our bill I fished out my credit card to pay and she shook her head.

    “Your check has been paid,” she said.

    “Really,” I said. “By whom?”

    “By Doug Thompson,” she said. “You were talking to him in the lounge.”

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