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Shooter at Halifax VFW pleads guilty

South Boston News
Cobbs
SoVaNow.com / July 03, 2017

A Danville man charged with an April 2016 shooting at the VFW Post in Halifax has pleaded guilty to charges that include attempted second degree murder and malicious wounding.

Malik Ratwon Cobbs, 21, is set to be sentenced in September after entering guilty pleas Thursday in Halifax County Circuit Court. The prosecution is recommending that Cobbs receive a maximum active term of eight years in prison for his crimes.

Cobbs was seen firing on partygoers on the night of April 24, 2016 when five people were wounded at a late-night birthday celebration at the VFW Post 8243. One of the victims was seriously injured when he was shot in the abdomen.

The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s sentencing recommendation — which the court is free to accept or reject — is part of a plea agreement struck in exchange for Cobbs’ admission of guilt.

Cobbs pleaded to four charges: attempted murder in the second degree, malicious wounding, malicious shooting into an occupied building and use of a firearm in commission of a felony, first offense.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Tracy Quackenbush Martin said the case against Cobbs “was troublesome and complex from an evidentiary perspective” because people who were shot at the party may have been wounded by someone other than Cobbs.

“We had no question that Cobbs was a shooter,” stated Martin of the case. “We also had no question that there was more than one shooter.

“The evidentiary problems stemmed in part from determining which if any of the victims was shot by Cobbs, or whether he was acting in concert with others,” she explained. “The Virginia State Police spent an incredible number of hours investigating the matter and even [used] advanced technology to attempt [to] reconstruct the scene. Unfortunately, all of their efforts could not rise above the limitations of the what the witnesses actually saw and, more importantly, did not see.”

No other arrests have been made in the shooting.

Martin noted that the recommendation for an eight-year prison term for Cobbs exceeds the high end for sentencing guidelines for the crimes in question. The midpoint of the sentencing guidelines is estimated to be five to six years, and the high end is approximately seven years, Martin said.

A large crowd was packed inside the VFW hall when the shooting began around 2 a.m.

The first officer to arrive on the scene was Sheriff’s Sgt. Seth Bowen, who initially responded to a call for assistance to untangle a jammed parking lot at the VFW Post.

Shortly after Bowen showed up, an altercation broke out inside the post building. After checking out the disturbance and seeing no active fighting, Bowen told security personnel to shut the party down. He estimated there were still some 100 people in attendance.

Bowen then stepped back outside only to hear “at least five to 10 shots” ring out from inside the building, according to his testimony at an August preliminary hearing.

Bowen also told the court that he saw Cobbs back out of the building, firing at least one or two shots as he exited.

Pulling his own weapon, the officer confronted Cobbs and ordered him to drop his gun. Cobbs refused to comply and was subsequently shot by Bowen.

A subsequent Virginia State Police investigation upheld Bowen’s actions in the officer-involved shooting.

In other court action this week:

Jeremy Michael Hill of Halifax was sentenced to 10 years in prison, with all but eight years and 10 months suspended, on charges of forgery of public records. The offenses took place Feb. 2, 2016. The suspended portion of Hill’s sentence is conditioned on his good behavior while on probation following his release from prison.

Ricky Carlton Walker of Halifax was sentenced to 12 months in jail, with all but six months suspended, after pleading guilty on Thursday to a number of charges: property destruction, assault and battery of a family member and trespassing. Charges against him of strangulation and entering a home to commit assault and battery were dropped. The incident happened on March 27, 2016.

Calvin Lamont Wells of South Boston was sentenced to five years in prison, with all but three years and 11 months suspended, for eluding police on Aug. 26, 2016.



He also received suspended 12-month jail terms for DWI, first offense, carrying a concealed weapon and reckless driving.

James Eric Monroe of Danville received a five-year prison term, with all but three years and 10 months suspended, for assault and battery of a family member, third or more offense. The incident took place Dec. 11, 2016.

Ronnie Dawaynn Chappell of Red Oak pleaded guilty Thursday to felony transportation and possession of a weapon, not a gun, in an incident dated Jan. 14, 2017. He is set to be sentenced Sept. 21 in Halifax County Circuit Court.



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