Local News

Soldier killed by Virginia police was armed with BB gun

Posted December 20, 2011

— A Fort Bragg soldier killed Saturday after exchanging gunfire with police in Virginia during a traffic stop was armed with a BB gun, authorities said Tuesday.

Hopewell deputies stopped a speeding 2000 Nissan Altima on southbound Interstate 295, but the driver sped away, prompting a brief pursuit, authorities said. After about 2 miles, the driver stopped, jumped out of the car and confronted two deputies.

The man, identified as Army Pfc. Robert L. Henderson III, 21, fired upon the deputies, who then returned fire, wounding him, authorities said. He died at a Richmond hospital.

Henderson pointed a BB gun at the deputies and refused to comply with their demands that he drop the weapon, according to the Virginia State Police, which was called in to investigate the shooting.

One deputy suffered minor injuries and was treated at the scene. The second deputy was not injured.

Henderson, of Reisterstown, Md., was a supply clerk with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, according to Fort Bragg officials.


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • leo-nc Dec 21, 2011

    The particular model that he pointed at the police looks exactly like a real pistol and doesn't have any orange markers on it. If that would have been pointed at me, I would have done the same thing. You CANNOT blame the police in this situation unless of course you were there and have the ESP to determine in an instant if the "gun" is real or not. Sorry but I'm going home at the end of my shift. No chances taken on my part. You point at me, you get shot. I have the right to do so under NC Law.

  • gunny462 Dec 21, 2011

    "Unlike paintball markers, BB GUNS are named so for a reason." gunny462

    "Hmmm...paintball guns are called paintball "markers"...is that normal or just to support your argument? I have heard them called both... Obscurite"

    Sorry Obscurite but when I bought all 7 of my markers, they were called markers. Todays standards may differ in that companies make them to resemble actual guns (primarily rifles). The term markers was/is used to separate and differentiate them from guns. Even wikipedia supports you upto a point. After saying "paintball marker or marker or gun" they immediately use the correct term of 'marker'. Working on numerous paintball fields as a 'field ref' and at my mobile repair shop I would correct the kids who called them 'guns'. An example would be to go to the Kingman Spyder website. They call their products 'markers', then google a spyder marker and it will come up as a 'gun'.

  • rjcuddington Dec 21, 2011

    Hey LOVE2DOSTUFF, I know nothing about all the Marine "experience" you have, but if you EVER worked as a LEO you would know that you don't wait for the armed suspect to shoot first. Once the weapon was displayed in a threatening manner after the prior activity of this suspect - it just escalated to a justified deadly force application - you should know this. You should also know not to trust a news media outlet for 100% word-for-word truth/factual reporting. Wait for the final report of the investigating agency.

  • Obscurite Dec 21, 2011

    As some people pointed out earlier, this looks very much like a suicide-by-cop and if that is the case, then it doesn't matter if its a BB gun, colt .45 or a spray painted banana...these things usually succeed...the police acted as they are trained to do and will have to live with the outcome of this...IMO they acted correctly according to their training...high speed chase had put people's lives in danger and then the suspect emerges from the car waving a "gun" and acting in a hostile manner...argue all you want but facts are facts...(soooo tempted to put "Period!" in here)


  • thepeopleschamp Dec 21, 2011

    BeHappy, did you stop or call the PD to stand up as a witness?

  • BeHappy Dec 21, 2011

    workingforthosethatwont - sorry you have your doubts. I don't lie. Saw the guy run and hit the ground when he was shot. I figured he was in the military because he was dressed in fatigues then found out the next day when they finally released more info that he was in fact in the military and from Ft. Bragg. What would you do it you saw lots of cops with lights on in a travel lane? Look and see what was going on is my guess. Yes, I did see it happen, along with lots of other people that were on the road. Hard to believe? Yeah, I know, I could not believe I just saw something like that myself.

  • Country Girlz Have MORE fun Dec 21, 2011

    "Army Pfc. Robert L. Henderson III, 21, fired upon the deputies"..
    This man knew what would happen if he pointed a gun at the police. It sounds like he was under distress with mental issues or he planned to die this way.

  • usemailinator Dec 21, 2011

    @love2dostuff Maybe a bee sting.
    Having been a cop in Houston for 5 years, I don't wait until I'm shot and see if it hurts before I shoot the suspect. Once the weapon comes up and it's pointed at me, everything else is secondary to stopping the threat.

    Everyone seems to forget, the cops didn't go out looking for someone to hassle. They guy was breaking the law when he was pulled over, the guy got out of the car with his bb gun, and the guy PUT THE POLICE in that situation, not the other way around.

  • Disabled Vet Dec 21, 2011

    BB gun or Bazooka, it doesn't really matter. Both have the capability of inflicting great bodily harm and both could kill if used properly. The police did exactly as they were trained to do and eliminated the threat. I have nothing but praise for the police and I am greatfull for them being there and doing what we, the taxpayers are paying them to do. And yes, I still feel that way when I get pulled over.

  • love2dostuff Dec 21, 2011

    Love the way some of you end your statement with "Period"!! Does that mean you can't further debate the alternatives and close your mind to other scenarios?

    Showed this article to "all" of my siblings who are cops including my father who is a retired cop. It's split 3 to 2 in favor of cops doing the right thing vs, they should have used more discretion. Judge for yourself.

    Got to go folks. Just got orders to return across the pond to support withdraw of flyboys. See ya in 90 days. Semper Fi.