By Lynn R. Mitchell
People in the Staunton area will remember that earlier this week there was a police chase on I-81 that began in Shenandoah County and ended in Augusta County. The interstate at Exit 225 — where Rowe’s, Texas Steakhouse, Cracker Barrel, Lowe’s, and Wal-Mart are located — was ground zero for the finale with traffic at a standstill. Local friends were stuck on the interstate as law enforcement successfully worked to end the chase.
A follow-up article in the Staunton News Leader on Thursday by reporter Brad Zinn raised some eyebrows and caused Sheriff Donald Smith to put out a response to correct the record. Well-known Harrisonburg radio personality Karl Magenhofer even wrote on Facebook, “Appreciate this response to what amounted to a hit piece by the News Leader. I’m surprised because the NL folks are usually very good.”
Here is the response from Augusta County Sheriff Donald Smith:
To The Citizens of Augusta County,
I apologize for this letter’s length but please read. After the recent article that the News Leader printed, I wanted to address those of you that I serve directly.
I was contacted by the News Leader yesterday after being out most of the night and working the day before. When I received their questions regarding the policies of my office, I informed them that I was on my way home to get some rest and that I would respond today. I am extremely disappointed that our local newspaper, that I or one of my admin staff members speaks to almost on a daily basis, would take the stance to immediately address policy concerns and report that my deputies were in the wrong. Why not a story on how the suspect was arrested the day before and released? I am not interested in getting into a debate or argument with the media, but I do want to put the facts out there so there are no questions.