USFS law enforcement officer faces gun charges

A U.S. Forest Service employee is facing gun charges in Shenandoah County, Virginia. According to a March 11 story at, Damion James McElroy faced three gun-related charges in a preliminary hearing on Monday — two misdemeanors and one felony — discharging a gun within town limits, discharging a gun in an occupied dwelling, and reckless handling of a firearm.. Shenandoah County General District Judge W. Dale Houff threw out the felony but it still could be presented to a grand jury along with the misdemeanor charges.

The USFS employee directory lists a Damion McElroy. His phone is in Shenandoah County, Virginia and he is described as a Law Enforcement Officer, R8, LE&I – Southern Special Agent, Northwest Enforcement Zone.

The charges revolve around Mr. McElroy discharging a handgun inside a house while a member of the clergy was in another room. The shot went into a wall but the clergyman testified that he thought it was accidental. A local law enforcement officer said that when he arrived at the house he concluded that Mr. McElroy had been drinking heavily before he arrested him.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Louis Campola said after the hearing that he was undecided about whether to take the case before a grand jury for a possible indictment.

The USFS placed Mr. McElroy on administrative leave after the incident.

A January 16 article at about the incident included this information:

…Strasburg Chief Tim Sutherly said Wednesday that police seized the firearm, a Taurus 9mm semi-automatic handgun, along with a slug recovered from the wall in the execution of a search warrant.

Sutherly said the gun is McElroy’s personal possession, and police found no other guns in the house.

Sutherly estimated police have visited the residence six times over the last two years in connection with what he described as domestic and mental health issues. He said his department had informed the Forest Service after the incidents.

“We’ve been in touch with his supervisor,” Sutherly said of McElroy. “They were made fully aware of everything.”

[JoBeth] Brown [of the USFS] said McElroy was posted at the Lee Ranger District in Edinburg, one of 17 agency employees at the location. She said he has worked for the Forest Service “for seven or eight years, but only a few of those have been in the Jefferson-Washington National Forest.”

She said his job as a ranger means he is a full-fledged law enforcement officer who would normally carry a gun as part of his job.

She said she had no information on when he last appeared on the job or how long the administrative leave might last.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.