Authorities investigating incident say it likely was done to intimidate woman
By J.R. Williams -- email@example.com
WINCHESTER -- A woman whose car was firebombed in early August was cooperating with authorities in the trial of Operation Blockbuster suspect O'Benson "O.B." Sensere, authorities said.
Sensere was the last defendant to be convicted following the large-scale drug raid on Cartwright's Recreation Center in Winchester in 2006. He was found guilty on several cocaine distribution charges Aug. 19.
Authorities arrested three people in connection with the Aug. 8 firebombing Friday: Kevin "Green Eyes" Grayson, 31, Caressa Cain, 25, and Johnny Toussaint, 27, all of the 2400 block of Papermill Road.
Authorities are still investigating the witness intimidation, said Mike Campbell, spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Court records show several people were involved in the planning, creation and execution of the firebombing.
Court documents state the woman was threatened the night before at a West Virginia nightclub. Campbell said he did not know if the woman was under witness protection at the time.
"There are policies and procedures we follow if we feel someone is in danger," Campbell said, "but we can't make people take protection."
The woman's car sustained minimal damage. She was not hurt.
According to an affidavit for a search warrant filed in the court, authorities responded to the woman's home on North Kent Street about 4:30 that morning, where it was reported Molotov cocktails were thrown at a car from another vehicle.
Three Molotov cocktails were on fire when crews arrived, it says. The firebombs were made from beer bottles, rags and lighter fluid, the affidavit states.
Witnesses told police that three people each threw a firebomb from the car, which they said was carrying seven people.
The night of the incident, witnesses told police they heard Toussaint make death threats, and an accomplice tried unsuccessfully to buy bullets at a Winchester Wal-Mart less than an hour before firefighters were called.
Campbell said Operation Blockbuster didn't end with Sensere's conviction. Agencies involved in the original investigation know "the block" -- Kent, Kern, Liberty and Highland streets -- is fragile ground, he said.
"We're not naïve enough to think our efforts have magically solved the problem," he said. "Oftentimes there will be folks that will want to take the place of those arrested. The key is vigilance."
Detective Adam Orndorff of the Northwestern Virginia Regional Drug Task Force worked the Blockbuster case, which saw 30 people charged with drug crimes. He said he helped Winchester police identify suspects after the firebombing.
"Winchester is a tight community," he said. "Interviews are still ongoing. Everybody knows everybody."