UPDATE 11:30 A.M. TUESDAY, JUNE 16:
Five men who had an AR-15 rifle pointed at them Sunday in Spotsylvania County were on private property, authorities said, but not on the property of the man accused of brandishing the gun at them.
A widely circulated video showed a confrontation involving 45-year-old Dennis Lee Berry of Partlow and five men who had wandered onto a private drive on their motorcycles. The rifle was pointed toward the men during the entire video, which lasted just under five minutes.
At least four of the five motorcyclists are African American or biracial, prompting allegations of racial motives against the gunman. The gunman didn't mention race during the video, though he did use profane language toward the group.
Berry was later charged with five misdemeanor counts of brandishing a firearm and released on his own recognizance. The other men were not charged.
Sheriff's Capt. Liz Scott said the altercation took place about 8:30 p.m. Sunday in Whelan Ridge Estates, a private subdivision in the Partlow area. The five victims had pulled into the subdivision on a road that is clearly posted, "Private Road No Trespassing," Scott said.
The five men, who include three Spotsylvania residents and two brothers from North Carolina, all said they not seen the sign, Scott said. They told the gunman the same thing repeatedly on the video. No charges were filed against the five men.
Both Berry and at least one of the victims called police and videotaped the incident, Scott said. The five men were waiting at the subdivision entrance for police, who seized Berry's rifle during the investigation.
Scott emphasized that Berry is not a former county deputy who has the same name. She said the family of the retired deputy, a former school resource officer and coach of the girls soccer team at Courtland High School, has received threats since the name of the brandishing suspect was released.
A Spotsylvania County man has been charged with multiple misdemeanor counts of brandishing a firearm during a dispute with five men Sunday in the Partlow area.
In a video that was spreading fast on social media Monday, the man is seen pointing a rifle toward four African American men who had ridden their motorcycles to the Whelan Way area. The man, who is white, repeatedly insisted that the other men were on a private road while the victims claimed there was no such posting.
During the video, which lasts a little under five minutes, the suspect assumed a left-handed shooting position and had the gun pointed toward the other men the entire time. The men repeatedly complained about the gun, saying they were posing no threat to the man and suggested that the gunman had racist motives.
“You’ve been waiting all day to shoot some black people, right?” one of the victims said. “You could have just asked us to leave.”
One victim claimed to be a federal officer and said he and others had lived in the area at one point.
The gunman made no references to race during the taped part of the confrontation, though he did use an expletive to refer to the men at one point.
A Spotsylvania deputy eventually responded to the scene and no one was injured.
Dennis Berry, 45, was charged with five counts of brandishing a firearm and was released on his own recognizance, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Brandishing is a Class 1 misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.
Keith Epps: 540/374-5404