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Details emerge on shooting at candidate’s home / October 20, 2021

The Sept. 23 fatal shooting of a South Hill 18-year-old took place at the Lunenburg County home of Joe L. “Joey” Paschal, a Libertarian Party candidate for the House of Delegates in the 61st District who questioned this week whether alleged police missteps may cloud the investigation.

Paschal, whose name will be on the Nov. 2 ballot for the House seat now held by Del. Tommy Wright (R-Lunenburg), spoke this week on the shooting death of Jaxon Neal of South Hill — revealing that the teenager was shot at Paschal’s home in the 1200 block of Whittles Mill Road, a short distance past the Lunenburg-Mecklenburg county line north of South Hill.

As a Virginia State Police investigation of Neal’s death continues, Paschal shared details of what he knows about the shooting and its aftermath. Police have withheld comment on the case, citing the ongoing investigation, and Paschal’s claims could not be independently confirmed.

He said he and his wife awoke shortly before midnight on Thursday, Sept. 23 after hearing “a strange noise” inside their home. Paschal said he headed toward the room where he thought the noise emanated and found Neal. He was unconscious and bleeding from a gunshot wound.

A second youth, an 18-year-old male, also was in the room, Paschal said. Pending the outcome of the police investigation, The Sun is not naming the individual. No charges have been placed.

In his account, Paschal described the actions of Lunenburg County deputies who responded to the scene of the shooting that night. The experience with county law enforcement, Paschal said, reinforced his view that more money spent on law enforcement training may have better prepared deputies to manage the shooting inquiry.

Efforts this week to obtain comment on the incident from law enforcement authorities involved in the initial response and subsequent investigation were unsuccessful. A spokesperson for Lunenburg County Sheriff Arthur Townsend directed all press inquiries to Virginia State Police Special Investigator Clay Overholt, who has taken over the probe into Neal’s death. Lunenburg Commonwealth’s Attorney Jordan Spiers said she could not comment on the case “as there is an ongoing investigation.”

A call Monday to Overholt seeking comment was unreturned as of press time.

Paschal estimated that it took rescue personnel 35 minutes to arrive at his home after a call to 911 was made from his home, because instead of dispatching the Southside Rescue Squad in South Hill to the emergency — Paschal lives in Lunenburg less than a mile from the border with Mecklenburg — rescue personnel were summoned from Kenbridge.

During that 911 call, Paschal said, the dispatch center operator was told there had been a shooting and that the victim was alive, but bleeding and unconscious.

Paschal insisted that the gun used to fire on Neal did not belong to him or anyone in his family.

Two road deputies with the Lunenburg County Sheriff’s Office were the first to arrive at his home. Paschal said they did nothing to stem the flow of blood or help Neal. They also did not question the four people in the house, including Paschal. According to a media statement issued last week by Virginia State Police, two adults, and an unnamed 18-year-old male and a 16-year-old male were inside the house with the shooting victim when police arrived around 11:50 p.m.

Neal was not given medical attention until the EMTs arrived, Paschal said. The teen was pronounced dead after being transported to VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital in South Hill.

Neal’s remains were later taken to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Richmond for examination and autopsy.

At some point, Paschal said, not specifying exactly when, Lunenburg deputies decided to test the people in the house for gunpowder residue but did not have a kit on hand. Both deputies left his home to drive back to the Lunenburg County Sheriff’s Office in Lunenburg Courthouse to find a gunpowder residue test kit. Paschal said he was surprised that one of the deputies did not stay behind to secure the scene while the other deputy retrieved the test materials.

After the deputies returned with the kit, Paschal said the gun residue test was performed on him, his wife, and the unnamed young males. Deputies also collected a rifle which allegedly was used in the shooting.

On the Monday following the shooting, Paschal said he and his family voluntarily gave their statements to the police. While at the sheriff’s office, Paschal said he asked if any of the deputies intended to extract the bullet that was still embedded in his wall of his home.

The lodged bullet has since been removed by police, he said.

More than a week after the shooting, Paschal said he learned that the investigation had been turned over to the Virginia State Police. Special Agent Overholt has been assigned to the case. Virginia State Police spokesperson Corinne Geller confirmed that the state police were asked by Lunenburg County Sheriff’s office to take on the investigation.

Police are releasing few details and no arrests have been made. According to Geller, investigators have not seen a final report from the medical examiner’s office but are continuing their analysis.

As the investigation enters its fourth week, police are still asking anyone with information related to this case to contact the Virginia State Police at 434-352-1728 or by email at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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