Defendant in Strasburg chase may face federal charges

By Joe Beck

A Woodstock man who led police on a wild chase through Middletown and Strasburg on March 28 may be facing charges in federal court soon.

A criminal complaint and affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg on Tuesday accuses Devon Renard Gray, 42, of 447 Water St., of two gun-related offenses and of selling heroin and crack cocaine. The gun violations cited are possession of a firearm by a career criminal and possession of a firearm by a person convicted of a crime punishable by more than a year in prison.

Gray was arrested days after police from three law enforcement agencies chased him on U.S. 11 through Strasburg until a Middletown officer crashed his car. The accident left the officer with minor injuries and destroyed his car.

The prosecution of Gray took another step toward the federal court system on Wednesday when Warren County prosecutors agreed to drop four charges against Gray, three drug related and one involving a gun.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Layton told General District Court Judge W. Dale Houff that agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were standing by ready to serve Gray with federal arrest warrants.

Layton said after the hearing that the pending federal case against Gray and the possibility of a long prison sentence led to the decision to drop the charges in Warren County. Layton said Warren County retains the option of reviving state charges against Gray as the federal prosecution unfolds.

“If he’s gone for 50 years in the federal system, it probably won’t be worth it,” Layton said of filing new charges against Gray in Warren County.

The affidavit filed against Gray in U.S. District Court by ATF agent William Metcalf states that Metcalf, while working undercover, showed Gray four pistols and a revolver on April 5.

“Metcalf stated that it was his understanding that Gray wanted a small (concealable) firearm,” according to the affidavit. “Gray stated that his people are trying to get firearms and prefer small (concealable) firearms.”

Gray chose a 9mm pistol and placed it in his waistband, according to affidavit. He was arrested shortly thereafter, the court document states.

After his arrest, Gray admitted to law enforcement officials he was wanted for eluding police, driving on a suspended license and grand theft auto, all offenses linked to the Middletown-Strasburg police chase, according to the affidavit. The affidavit states Gray also told authorities that he was trying to buy a gun to trade for heroin.

The affidavit also lists six sales of heroin or cocaine Gray made to a police informant between March 4 and March 28.

The informant told law enforcement officials that he or she had also bought prescription drugs or marijuana 40 times from Gray before becoming an informant.

Gray’s criminal record in Florida and Virginia includes convictions for assault on a police officer, selling of drugs, resisting arresting arrest with violence, and a probation violation, according to the affidavit.

The affidavit also lists felony arrest warrants that had been issued for Gray in Roanoke, Woodstock and Winchester at the time of his arrest. The arrest warrants involved the police chase, a drug-related probation violation and grand theft auto.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com