CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) – Master Trooper Junius Walker, the most senior African-American trooper in the 1,800 member Virginia State Police force, was simply trying to help what appeared to be a stranded motorist as his shift ended Thursday.
Walker, 63, had pulled beside a disabled vehicle on the shoulder of southbound I-85 in Dinwiddie County, according to sources familiar with the case. Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller also contributed to this timeline of what happened.
The trooper reflexively hit the gas. The patrol car raced down the hill and up into the woods, its wheels still spinning as it came to a stop.
The suspect apparently waited a few moments before approaching Walker’s still-running patrol car.
Passing motorists had seen the trooper’s car running off the road and called 911.
Two troopers were just a mile and a half or so up the interstate, also on the southbound side, safeguarding a road repair zone. One and then the other raced southbound to help.
The first responding officer saw someone firing into the trooper’s car. He radioed it in, then got out and exchanged gunfire with the suspect.
The suspect then reached into Trooper Walker’s car, apparently attempting to get at his service pistol secured in this holster. The responding trooper rushed to get his service rifle out of the trunk.
The suspect then ran into the woods, stripping off his clothes, perhaps in an attempt to elude tracking dogs.
Meanwhile, a Dinwiddie deputy sheriff who had just a little while earlier spotted the disabled car and the man on the hill, was coming around to help the motorist via U.S. Route 1 – which closely parallels the interstate. He heard the call of shots fired and of the suspect running through the woods.
Familiar with the area, the deputy scouted a nearby towing lot and spotted a naked man hiding in the back seat of a car and is able to handcuff him.
The two responding troopers pulled Walker out of his patrol car, which was sitting on top of a brush pile and had caught fire. Another officer arrived to help them pull Walker up the hill toward the roadway. There was nothing they can do for him.
There was some confusion at first about what happened – that perhaps there was another suspect – because of the many 911 cell phone calls, some of them routed to different call centers.
During his preliminary hearing Thursday, the suspect, 28-year-old Russell Ervin Brown III of Chesterfield, told the court that he killed the trooper and was fine with being executed for it.
A close-friend of his said Russell Brown was largely raised by his grandfather, a respected Richmond deputy sheriff, now retired. The friend, like the family, believe Brown, a currently unemployed barber down his luck, completely snapped.
Brown had reached the end of his rope, his family and a friend said. He had been evicted from his house, he had missed a custody hearing for his children and was being hit for more child support. He was out of money, out of gas.
“When you’re going through a lot of stress, it can affect you mentally and psychologically,” said his sister, Michelle Brown. “And it can cause you to be paranoid and delusional, and I think that’s what happened to my brother.”
The Dinwiddie prosecutor said she will pursue the death penalty in this case. That’s exactly what the killer got the last time a state trooper was slain 20 years ago.
The funeral service for Trooper Junius A. Walker will be held Tuesday, March 12, at 11:00 a.m. at Good Shepherd Baptist at 2223 S. Crater Road in Petersburg. The vigil originally scheduled for Monday will be moved to a later date. That date has not yet been set.
If you wish to make a monetary donation, the Walker Family is asking you to make them to the Virginia State Police Association Emergency Relief Fund. Click here for more information.