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City's second red flag case involves threats to kill ex-wife, shoot Roanoke police

A Roanoke man who police said made threats to kill his ex-wife and shoot officers is the defendant in the city’s second flag case overall and the first one of 2023.

Since Virginia’s red flag law was enacted in 2020, it has been used just a handful of times in the Roanoke and New River valleys. It allows law enforcement to issue substantial risk orders and seize firearms from people who seem on the verge of harming themselves or others.

Roanoke’s first red flag case was filed in September. Officers issued an emergency substantial risk order to Michael E. Witcher, 35, of Roanoke on Sept. 19. The risk order was extended on Sept. 28 and is scheduled to expire March 28.

Documents related to Witcher’s case are sealed in the courthouse’s digital public document system. But unsealed search warrants and court documents detail the more recent threats made by Scott C. Roseberry, 51, of Roanoke on Jan. 3.

A Roanoke police officer went that day to a residence in the 3000 block of Green Spring Avenue Northwest “in reference to a civil matter,” he wrote in an affidavit. Roseberry had called 911 for police assistance.

“When I arrived, I knocked on the door,” the officer wrote. “Roseberry after a few moments emerged from the side door with a black handgun. After several commands, he set the weapon down.”

The police officer smelled alcohol, and he noticed Roseberry’s speech was slurred and his feet were unsteady. He arrested Roseberry on charges of public intoxication, recklessly handling a firearm and brandishing a firearm.

While obtaining those arrest warrants, the officer said Roseberry made threats to shoot police if they responded to his house. The man also made threats “to murder his ex-wife and father-in-law if they showed up” at his house that night.

An emergency substantial risk order was issued to Roseberry at 10:50 p.m. Jan. 3. The police officer also presented a search warrant for Roseberry’s residence to the city’s magistrate that evening.

In the search warrant’s affidavit, the officer said Roseberry admitted to having “at least five more firearms in the house.” And, when the officer told Roseberry that the emergency substantial risk order asked him to surrender those firearms to police, Roseberry said, “Why the [expletive] would I do that?”

Police later searched the Green Spring Avenue residence and seized eight firearms, which remain in Roanoke Police Department custody.

Roseberry’s emergency risk order was set to expire Jan. 17.

During a hearing in Roanoke Circuit Court on Wednesday, Roseberry appeared without an attorney. Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Alyssa Smith asked Judge Christopher Clemens to continue the risk order.

Roseberry told the court he’d be willing to go without his firearms for 30 days. But Smith recommended a substantial risk order be issued for the next three months.

Roseberry said he has not talked to a medical professional about the Jan. 3 incident, which he said involved his “ex.”

“Anytime she comes into town, it’s a problem,” he told the court.

“This is about safety,” Clemens said. “I think this is an easy thing that we can do for 90 days.”

Roseberry agreed, and the court issued a substantial risk order, which is set to expire April 11.

A hearing to review the case is scheduled for April 10. Clemens asked Roseberry to meet with a medical professional and bring documentation to the review hearing about his well-being.

In criminal court, Roseberry faces four charges: drunk in public, possession of a firearm while intoxicated, reckless handling of a firearm and brandishing a firearm. He is scheduled to be arraigned on those charges Jan. 12 in Roanoke General District Court.

Roseberry has faced criminal charges in Roanoke before. In May 2016, he was charged with two counts of misdemeanor firearm brandishing. And in February 2009, he was charged with making a “community threat” to bomb or burn, which is a felony.

The threat charge was later amended in Roanoke Circuit Court to using profane language over the phone, a misdemeanor, to which Roseberry pleaded guilty the following June. He was sentenced to one day in jail.

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Emma Coleman covers public safety and courts in the Roanoke Valley. She can be reached at (540) 981-3198 or emma.coleman@roanoke.com.

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