Elvis Shifflett in Critical Condition

Family members of Elvis Gene Shifflett were permitted to visit him in the hospital yesterday, CBS-19 reports, three days after Shifflett was captured in a massive manhunt resulting from his attempt to kill his ex-girlfriend two weeks ago. Shifflett is in serious condition, but is expected to survive, after being shot repeatedly by a pair of police officers.

Elvis ShifflettNew details are now coming out about the events of Friday afternoon. Police found a loaded semiautomatic SKS and forty rounds in ammunition in his vehicle shortly after he abandoned the car while fleeing police. Crystal Morris, who was in the car with him at the time of the chase, says that Shifflett claimed that he hadn’t turned himself in because he believed they would kill him. She told police that Shifflett was unarmed. Shifflett was spotted by police while he was attempting to steal a flatbed truck on Brookhill. Chief Tim Longo says that he was repeatedly ordered to show his hands and, when he didn’t comply, officers opened fire, hitting him in the neck, back, chest, and arm. The Hook broke the news yesterday that Shifflett was shot in the face and at least one injury was inflicted by an M16.

The state police are investigating the shooting now, as is required, leaving Charlottesville police unable to say much about the matter.

Elvis ShifflettIn the Progress, Rob Seal reports that Shifflett has a heck of a rap sheet, going back two decades, including felony convictions. And the Hook reports that it runs in the family: Shifflett’s brother, Jeffrey Wayne Shifflett, is wanted by police for a string of burglaries and for threatening the lives of police officers in his brother’s case. Police are sufficiently concerned about the threat that they’re not releasing the names of the officers involved in the shooting. He is considered armed and dangerous.

25 thoughts on “Elvis Shifflett in Critical Condition”

  1. To these fellas’ friends and family posting here, I’ve got a message for you. Don’t fault me — or cvillenews.com commenters — for believing what we read in the press. It’s our only source of information about this. You believe that these are nice guys and this whole thing is unfair to them. And you’re welcome to express that here, and that’s what makes cvillenews.com useful. Please see this site as an opportunity to persuade and inform people, not as an opportunity to yell at strangers.

  2. Shot with an “M-16”? If that’s indeed the case, that’s a bit much. I mean this was one guy, and not The North Hollywood Shootout. I will 2nd guess the police on that one. A regular gun should’ve been enough. No need to bring out the heavy firepower.

  3. In the Progress, Rob Seal reports that Shifflett has a heck of a rap sheet, going back two decades, including felony convictions.

    Two decades? He’s 38, so that means he’s had run ins with the law for his entire adult life. Wow.

    That makes scrubs’ comments that he’s a good hearted fellow and the kind of guy everyone loved (past tense?) to be around a wee bit hard to believe.

  4. TrvlnMn,

    How is that a bit much? The .223 round fired by the M16 is, if anything, notoriously weak for a combat rifle. The M16 looks scary and has some features that make it more convenient to use in the event of a prolonged firefight under difficult conditions but it really doesn’t kill someone any deader than any other gun. If a police officer is a good shot with an M-16 and is comfortable using it then I can’t imagine why he shouldn’t carry it while tracking down a suspect known to be armed, dangerous and desperate to avoid capture.

    Now I’m gonna weigh in on the question of lethal force.

    Officers are trained always to shoot to kill if they must shoot at all. It is sad but at the end of the day this is a very sensible rule. Allow me to explain why.

    I shoot rather a lot of ammunition every month in target practice. Rifles, shotguns and pistol. In the movies, anyone who grabs a gun is instantly a perfect shot and can hit their opponent squarely in the chest or ‘just wound him’ in the leg as he pleases. In real life it is very hard to hit a target so carefully at a range, let alone under the stress of a real world firefight. I have probably fired at least 3,000 rounds through my Ruger Mk. III pistol alone in the last 4 months and only now have I gotten to the point where I can hit a 3 inch target reliably at 15 yards. At 30 to 50 yards I start to completely tank. Police officers don’t get nearly this much target practice.

    A human leg or arm presents a very poor target. In the first place, it is much smaller than the torso and in the second place the legs and arms are often in motion making them harder to hit than the torso. To attempt to wound a suspect in the arm or leg is simply impractical. Odds are that the officer would either miss the suspect entirely or hit him in a vital area and end up killing him.

    Nobody outside of the world of competetive shooting is a good enough shot to dependably inflict only non-lethal wounds. It would be an impossible standard leading to police officers constantly finding themselves getting sued for accidentally killing people whom they were supposed to only wound.

    Meanwhile, let’s say that the officer does manage to only hit the suspect in the shoulder or leg. What’s to stop the suspect from returning fire? People manage to shoot back all time time after they have been injured in a firefight. The only way to dependably take an armed opponent out of the fight is to take ‘center of mass’ shots and kill him. If the suspect is not believed to be armed then there would probably have been no excuse to shoot in the first place.

    So it *has* to be kill or not shoot at all. In this case, the suspect was known to have been armed with a pistol in the first place (the only common firearm I know of with an exposed firing pin is a revolver) and a loaded SKS in his car. Given that he was running from the law, the presumption had to be that Elvis was armed and prepared to resist arrest.

  5. Is Elvis a model citizen? No. Has Elvis been convicted of actually hurting anybody? No. Elvis has done things in the past that he is not proud of, but who hasn’t. As far as his rap sheet going back to 2 decades that’s not true. For the comment that was made that it runs in the family that’s not true at all. My Grandmother has 9 children and not all of them have been in trouble with the law, and other family members as well has not been in trouble with the law including Elvis’ children. My Grandmother was able to see Elvis yesterday (10/23) for a short while, but she was only allowed to hold his hand. She was not even allowed to bend over and give her son a kiss who is fighting for his life, because the authorities were afraid that she could do something to help him escape. Elvis is on life support for crying out loud, the last thing the family wants to do is get him out of the hospital when he needs to be there. Elvis did ask for paper and a pencil and the authorities would not even allow him that. My Grandmother had to try to read his lips while he was trying to talk to her. Yes, we want Elvis to pull through this but something could still happen to where he may not make it. I hope this reply as helped a little.

  6. Let’s hope Elvis wil recover sufficiently to stand trial and repay his debt to society, continue on to make better choices in life and serve his family. I for one, am proud of our police. I hate to think what might have happened if he’d had a chance to use his weapon.

  7. Nothing would have happened if he had a chance to use his weapon because he was UNARMED!!! That was even stated on the 29 news yesterday.

  8. The discovery of an automatic assault rifle and multiple rounds in the car would lead to the fear that he had a plan to use the weapon before he was stopped and that he might have had other weapons. As before, he had been seen with a handgun in Ct. Sq.

    I’m very sympathetic to the fact that Elvis is hurt badly and in the hospital due to the confrontation with police. It’s also good to know that his family is there to support him. However, before that happened he was also a fugitive who assaulted his girlfriend outside the courthouse, ran from police, and would not cooperate with the police. Based upon his actions toward authorities, I don’t see wiggle room. The police had very good reasons to respond the way they did. We rely on law enforcement to react this way when faced with a volatile, unpredictable situation.

  9. Having said all that, scrubs, I don’t think that I’m the only one reading this thread that understands that having a family member land in this situation is unique and painful for everyone involved. I can’t imagine the shock and impact it must have. So I reiterate my wish for Elvis to recover and make good.

  10. It was stated that Elvis’ weapon was found in the Red Dodge Shadow that he had been driving. Elvis was on foot and the witness stated over and over again to the authorities that he was unarmed so there was no need to use the excessive force that was used on 1 unarmed man. I’m glad that you are proud of our police department but I for one am not. There has been a rapist in C-Ville for # of years that they are unable to catch. Maybe the police department should have used those 55 men that were used for Elvis to try to catch a rapist to protect the women of C-Ville, maybe when they catch the rapist I too will be proud until then I will be proud until then NO THANKS.

  11. Elvis was on foot and the witness stated over and over again to the authorities that he was unarmed so there was no need to use the excessive force that was used on 1 unarmed man.

    To be fair to the police, the witness wasn’t exactly trustworthy, given that she was clearly enough of a friend to be taking a ride in a car with him while knowing full well that he was on the lam. If a disinterested third party had affirmed he was unarmed (ie: “he just ran by, barefoot, in spandex shorts and shirtless — I can guarantee you he’s unarmed”) I imagine that could have been judged as noteworthy.

    Let’s not forget that he was attempting to steal a vehicle. There are approximately 4.7M guns in Virginia, and 6.4M registered vehicles. Those odds don’t look good for an officer confronted by a violent felon in a vehicle who refuses to put his hands up.

  12. Officers are trained always to shoot to kill if they must shoot at all. It is sad but at the end of the day this is a very sensible rule.

    Just in case you were inferring that I might think that “Shoot to Kill” isn’t a sensible rule. I wasn’t. Read my posts on the other thread. I’m also not the gun expert that you are. So in that respect a machine gun seems like a bit much to me.

    If a police officer is a good shot with an M-16 and is comfortable using it then I can’t imagine why he shouldn’t carry it while tracking down a suspect known to be armed, dangerous and desperate to avoid capture.

    Further since Elvis is still living, neither officer must be a very good shot, and for Elvis’ family I suspect that is probably a good thing.

  13. I am glad that the police have caught this individual. Clearly the courts are going to have to handle the next step, but I have not seen a single shred of evidence that leads me to believe that he is ‘innocent’ or a ‘nice-guy’.

    Avoiding the judicial process, pointing weapons at people, and evading the police is no way to prove your innocence.

    If the family really wants to communicate with him, hire a lawyer and go through the proper channels, he is in policy custody and there is nothing you can do about that.

  14. Sylvia,

    The SKS is not an ‘automatic assault rifle.’ Automatic weapons have been effectively banned for private ownership in the US since the 1930’s. Assault rifles are selective fire battle rifles firing a medium to small cartridge. The SKS is not a selective fire weapon or else it would have been illegal to import since well before it was even invented.

    I have an SKS in the trunk of my car right now. It is essentially a run of the mill semi which a smaller magazine capacity than most .22s at Walmart. It is far less dangerous than my deer rifle. There’s nothing unusual about having a rifle in one’s car in this area. Just last week I had to pull over and put down a badly wounded deer that had been hit by another car a few minutes earlier.

    For a complete explanation of what an assault rifle is, see my blog entry on the matter at http://rule-303.blogspot.com/2006/08/assault-weapons-explained.html

    Of course, there is no excuse for illegally having the weapon loaded while transporting it and given that he was running from the police they had to assume that he was up to something with it.


    I know that you weren’t on the other side of the ‘use of lethal force’ question. I just wanted to address it because it has been a topic of discussion here lately. I should have been more clear about the fact that I wasn’t trying to refute you there.

    By the way, an M16 is not a machine gun per se. It is capable of firing short bursts in fully automatic mode but if you tried to use it like a machine gun then the barrel would overheat and the gun would fail. Like every assault rifle, an M16 has a little 3 position switch. Safety, semi-auto and full auto. Full auto is rarely used. A police officer would probably keep an M16 in semiautomatic mode only, which is to say that for every time that you pull the trigger a single round is fired. The full-auto option would be more of an emergency thing in the event that a major firefight erupts and another officer needs a lot of covering fire in order to move.

  15. A summary of interesting tidbits from this thread:

    1. It’s easier to shoot someone in the middle of the body than in an arm or a leg.

    2. There are many different kinds of guns, and some of them sound quite complicated.

    3. Family and friends of a person in police custody (or fleeing police custody) often feel the person is misunderstood and basically harmless.

    4. People who are not family and friends of a person in police custody (or fleeing police custody) often feel that the person is a threat and are relieved when the person is caught.

    5. Person A sometimes wants Person B to walk a mile in A’s shoes but is often not willing to walk a mile in B’s shoes as well. “Imagine you were in Elvis’s shoes!” “No, imagine you were in the cops’ shoes!”

  16. It’s very hard to say anything without knowing more at this point. Given the history of the Albemarle, and to a lesser degree, Charlottesville PD’s hamhanded-ness, I tend to be more skeptical of their version of events. It is difficult to understand how this turns into a shooting event in the case the suspect isn’t actually armed. Given that they were incapable of tracking him down even after he physically ran, for some time, it seems like the officers would have been able to maintain protective cover. In other words: Elvis was too busy running to shoot, even if he had a gun. With such a large number of officers converging on the area, why were they unable to cordon the area and maintain cover? It ought to have been possible to completely surround him.

    I think anytime there is a real question of officer safety, they have a right to use lethal force for self-protection. They do not drive around looking for random people to shoot at – any individual has to put themselves into that kind of position vis-a-vis the police.

    In this case, the judgement that he was “armed” during the chase seems suspect since he ultimately proved unarmed. It seems quite plausible that the officers’ judgement and the resulting response was affected by the ongoing manhunt nature of Elvis’ recent actions. I wonder how much frustration with chasing (and not catching) him over several days got to them. I know it would upset me – he obviously has been around the area, and if there truly were multiple lockdowns at Walton, then clearly they knew he was eluding them. This is the heart of the ‘lack of professionalism’ argument.

    Any schoolteacher will tell you: it’s easy to “corner a kid into bad behavior” – you are the authority figure and you can easily prod kids into stepping over the line, without necessarily doing so yourself. Law enforcement is perfectly well aware of this technique too.

    It will be interesting to see how the details play out. I would imagine that keeping an information “cordon” around him – preventing him from speaking to family – is part of interrogation/case management. I am glad he’s off the street too – bb gun or no, we don’t need whackjobs threatening people outside of domestic court – some behavior isn’t justifyable, no matter how much we sympathize with the person.

  17. Jack: My bad. I equated and SKS with an AK-47 and I keyed on automatic. Thanks for correcting me. I agree that having it in the trunk while running from police was a good reason for police to think E.S. was going to use it.

    Cville-Lib: I agree with your schoolteacher comment to a point. Kids who are escalating will essentially let the teacher make the choice for them if given not other choices to right a situation. A good teacher will give reasonable outs to deescalate a child. In capturing a fugitive, there just aren’t as many outs to offer.

  18. This is what I have learned over the past week or so, first of all the police do not carry M-16’s they carry the AR-15 which is the same gun, just a different name and is not issued with the automatic setting.

    In reading all the posts I find that most of you are right, yes Elvis was a pretty good guy most of the time, he had a good business as a brick layer and employed some people. Had a nice home and a pretty good family life. Yes he had a criminal record, check out the following link, it is all public record and on line, I do not think it goes back far enough to get all of his record but I have not checked.

    As I understand the situation Elvis was a hard working guy who liked to party on the weekends, who doesnt. Then several months ago his brother Jeff turned him on to a more, lets say, addictive form of the substance he liked and it was off to the races. He lost his cars, his business and his girlfriend. Which lead to the incident at Court’s Square. Yes it was out of Character for him to do what he did, but yes he did it and caused a lot of pain for himself and his family. For that we are all sorry, it is a shame that the actions of one can have such a hurtfull reaction to so many.

    As for the police, they are trained to shoot only as a last resort and to stop the threat, not to kill, not to wound or wing but to stop the threat. I am sure the officers are not at home saying how happy they are that they shot him, they take the job very seriously and we all owe them a debt.

    As for Jeffrey, who has maid threats to police that he is going to avenge his brothers situation. YOU are the cause of this and need to be taken off of the streets before you hurt, rob or break and enter again.

  19. When we de-escalate a child it’s to help them learn how to de-escalate themselves. When the police have the opportunity to de-escalate a wanted person, it’s because they are safe enough to do it.

    Let me see: they’re slogging through the woods, having found profound armament in the suspects car. Sure the suspect’s pal says ‘oh, he’s not armed’ — in a pig’s eye. Suspects tend to leave behind weaponry because they’re already carrying as much as they can comfortably. Painful as it may be to the suspect’s family: it isn’t the police who screwed up: it’s their relative. Be angry with and scared about him, but don’t outsource the blame. Elvis ran having done repeated legal no-nos. That’s wrong. Bad. Really annoying. And tends to endanger your life if you do it after a fire-arms violation like, oh — trying to murder an ex-girlfriend. Family: you’re enabling him. This means you’re helping him to continue to behave very badly. Yes, it’s painful and a mess, but you’ve helped profoundly by minimizing the anti-social and illegal behavior he’s clearly exhibited for years. Admit your own culpability. Admit his. This isn’t sending someone to Guantanomo for years without recourse: this is pretty clearly a pattern of escalating law-breaking enabled by friends and associates. “He’s a nice guy” is meaningless as long as he’s permitted to shoot people he’s annoyed at as part of being a nice guy.

    Police are overworked and underpaid and I need them from time to time to protect me and my family. I’m very sorry, but I’m willing to cut them a bit of slack if they only thought Elvis was armed and it turns out he wasn’t. He repeatedly behaved like an armed man — I’m not going to knee-jerk blame the police if they believed his behavior.

  20. So happy that the honorable Hook is exercising its journalist integrity by reporting news reportedly heard second hand over a scanner. Coming next….”Rumors We Overheard at the Salon Today” … story at 11.

  21. Ah, an AR-15. That makes much more sense. As much respect as I have for the Hook it was probably a bad idea to trust them to identify a particular firearm.

    The AR-15 is just a semi-automatic rifle with a sort of modular design system such that it’s very easy to customize and swap out different barrels and stocks and other parts for different kinds of shooting or personal preference. Not my cup of tea but law enforcement loves them.

    Usually the AR-15 is chambered in .223 but you do also see it in .308 Winchester frequently. Probably the CPD’s are in .223 because if Elvis had been shot in the chest with .308 then I doubt that he would be alive right now.

  22. The rifle the City uses is indeed a semi auto 223, but an HK. Not a full auto M-16 or AR-15. It is much better to take a rifle to a possible gun fight than a pistol.

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