Danville Police identify officer involved in fatal shooting

(Danville, Va.) – Danville police have identified the officer involved in a fatal weekend shooting as Justin P. Nelson, a 12-year veteran of law enforcement who had just recently been rehired by the local department.

Nelson had previously worked for both the Danville Police Department and the Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Office and was sworn-in as a Danville officer three days after Christmas.

Danville Police responded to the 1069 Halifax Road about 12:47 Sunday morning for a report of shots fired. Upon arrival, police knocked at the door. Shots were fired from inside the house towards the officers, who were forced to take cover and establish a perimeter around the property.

While police attempted to negotiate with the gunman, he exited the home and shot at police. Officer Nelson returned fire and Richard R. Towler, 54, was shot and killed.

When investigators entered the residence, they discovered the body of 38-year-old Crystal Averett, who had phoned earlier to report that a man was shooting at her.