A couple of months ago, before I began my battle with back pain, I has just picked up a pizza at Casey Clinger’s Pizza Inn restaurant the other night when I noticed a while Celica with North Carolina plates, running without lights, with four young men touring the parking lot that runs between the Floyd Pharmacy, Subway and Pizza Inn.
I started the Wrangler and pulled across the Floyd Pharmacy parking lot and into DJ’s lot before stopping and shutting off my lights. The car continued to circle the lot. Floyd Pharmacy was closed. Subway and Pizza Inn would close soon enough.
So I reached into the back of my Wrangler and pulled out a hunting vest, the kind that looks like it might or might not have a weapon on an inside holster. When the Toyota pulled into the Pharmacy lot, lights still off, I got out of the Jeep and stood in front on the headlights with my hands in pockets where weapons might be located.
Suddenly, the headlights of the Toyota came on and the car pulled out onto Main Street with tires screaming.
I got back into the Jeep and followed the Toyota, which drove into Floyd and headed for the shopping area with Dollar General. When it reached the parking lot, it doused its lights. Dollar General was just closing up.
So I pulled up behind the Celica and made a show out of writing down the license number. Once again, it rushed out of the lot, this time heading south on Main Street.
I followed it into downtown, past the stop light and to Food Lion, which closes at 11, and it slowed but I saw the driver watching my headlights in his rear view mirror and kept heading south on U.S. 221.
We continued south, a two-car parade, passing the Willis Village Mart and Dugspur Deli-Mart — passing into Carroll County. I called the Carroll Dispatcher and advised them of the car and license number and reported the behavior of the driver.
A Carroll County officer dropped in behind the car near Rte. 100 and followed it through Hillsville and on to Galax, where the Galax police and Grayson County deputies picked up the tails. The car continued down U.S. 221, past Independence, and on to North Carolina.
Earlier this year, armed robbers stormed into a Willis convenience store and escaped in a vehicle with North Carolina plates. Yes, perhaps I was profiling the young men in the Toyoto acted suspicious. If so, I admit it and make no apologies for doing so. At another time this year, I observed, and reported, another group of young men who appeared to be casing another store.
While police could follow the cars, they could not pull them over without “reasonable suspicion.” Floyd County deputies do the best they can with limited resources and manpower. We’re lucky to have the ones we do have on the job. Life around here could be a lot more dangerous if they weren’t out there.
But we must realize that life in Floyd County is not as safe or as serene as it once was. Crime is up, and continues to increase. Much of it has to be with the epidemic problem of crystal meth and the need for money by those addicted to the drug.
While veryone should be diligent. I certainly don’t recommend pulling the bluff I did the other night. I didn’t have any weapons in that jacket or in the Jeep on that particular night.
But I could have — and many do. I grew up in a family of hunters and have extensive training on the use of firearms. Even so, I’ve never had to pull a weapon on another person in a civilian situation and pray that I never do.
Floyd is one of the leading counties in Virginia when it comes to per capita numbers of concealed carry permits. There’s an old joke that says half of Floyd County carries concealed weapons legally and the other half just carries them.
That’s something would-be robbers should remember the net time they decide to take a drive up from North Carolina or Roanoke for some midnight shopping. Residents of Floyd County and other parts of Virginia exercise their rights to carry firearms and most of them know how to use them.