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Court docs: Powhatan man in officer-involved shooting threatened to torture, kill his father

Posted at 6:46 PM, May 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-05 18:46:43-04

POWHATAN COUNTY, Va., — A criminal complaint revealed a possible motive to the threatening text messages a Powhatan man allegedly sent to his family prior to being shot by a deputy.

Around 7 p.m. on Sunday, The Powhatan County Sheriff’s Office received a report that 25-year-old Joshua Sprouse had sent the alarming messages to harm his family members and law enforcement.

Sprouse’s father filed a criminal complaint with a magistrate just after 8 p.m Saturday.

He accused his son of “threatening me and my family to come to my house in middle of night if I don’t give him money.”

The complaint alleged Sprouse’s texts included threats to use a chainsaw and boiling water to harm his father.

Sprouse's father said his son texted that he would “pump cops full of lead” if law enforcement was called.

Deputies and state troopers located Sprouse at his home on Three Bridge Road after a warrant and Emergency Custody Order were issued.

"Sprouse was shooting a variety of weapons in multiple directions," Chief Deputy Jeffery S. Searfoss with the Powhatan County Sheriff’s Office said.

Responding deputies reported to dispatchers that Sprouse was shooting at the Sheriff’s Office drone and at passing cars. Law enforcement told neighbors to “bunker down” as the suspect fired his weapons randomly outside.

"Multiple attempts to communicate with Sprouse were made and were unsuccessful," Searfoss said. "Ultimately Sprouse exited his residence and attempted to shoot a deputy at which time he was shot by a Powhatan County deputy.”

Robert Cerullo, Powhatan’s Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney, said Sprouse had undergone surgery twice at Chippenham Hospital.

As of Tuesday morning, Cerullo said the suspect was recovering in the intensive care unit.

Sprouse may face additional charges when he’s discharged from the hospital and pending the results of an investigation conducted by the Virginia State Police.

The deputy involved in the shooting was placed on routine administrative leave. No other injuries were reported.

‘You could see him shooting’

Sherri Martin’s first day of retirement from working 25 years in finance was on Sunday. She spent the night hiding from random gunfire a few houses down on Three Bridge Road.

“You could see [Sprouse] with his gun moving it around and going from the back to the front,” Martin recalled. “You could see him shooting at the ground and he was pacing erratically.”

At the time, Martin was unaware that troopers and deputies had surrounded the neighborhood.

“We had heard the police were all around us, but we just couldn’t see them,” she recalled.

Neighbor Katie Bayer moved across the street from Sprouse about a month ago.

“We were actually trying to get away from the violent crimes in the city,” she explained.

Bayer said she began hearing random shooting sometime after 6 p.m. Sunday, which isn’t unusual in her neighborhood.

“We’re used to hearing gunshots out here,” Bayer stated. “They sounded really close and at first it was more of annoyance.”

After seeing a man with a gun standing on the porch, Bayer explained that she was going to call 911 until a swarm of first responders filled Three Bridge Road.

Both Martin and Bayer said they didn’t know the suspect well. They’re fortunate no one else was injured.

“It’s nice living in a community where you know your neighbors and when you get neighbors you don’t know — it’s kind of scary,” Martin stated.