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Commonwealth’s Attorney: Deputy acted appropriately in shooting involving Grottoes man

Published: May. 14, 2021 at 2:20 PM EDT|Updated: May. 14, 2021 at 5:52 PM EDT
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GROTTOES, Va. (WHSV) - An Augusta County deputy “acted appropriately” in the shooting death of Jeffrey Bruce of Grottoes, according to Augusta County Commonwealth’s Attorney Tim Martin.

Bruce was suspected of breaking-and-entering into a Grottoes home in May

Martin released his findings on the deadly deputy-involved shooting after getting a report from the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation on Thursday.

Back on May 14, a deputy was dispatched to Blue Fish Lane in Grottoes for a report of a breaking-and-entering at a home. While on the scene, the deputy determined Bruce was the suspect in a burglary and damage of a home near where he was living.

According to Martin, prior to the burglary, Bruce was vocal about the fact he was not going back to jail. He had served 18 years behind bars on several rape charges.

When the deputy showed up to the home on May 14, Martin said the deputy surveyed the damage and interviewed the property owner who said Bruce had lived nearby. The deputy allegedly spoke with Bruce’s mother who said her son had no intention of going peacefully. Bruce’s mother and sister said he had knives. His sister, according to Martin, confirmed Bruce broke into the home which initiated the call to law enforcement. Bruce’s sister reportedly told the deputy that her brother wanted to “die at the hands of a police officer.”

As the deputy sought Bruce, Bruce allegedly ran into the nearby woods for a long distance. While back-up law enforcement was coming, Martin said the deputy eventually found Bruce laying down and deputies ordered him to stay down, however, Bruce got up and was holding a knife over his head. He allegedly screamed and charged toward officers with the knife. Refusing commands, Martin said Bruce continued to advance toward the deputy and the deputy shot Bruce four times in the torso.

The deputy who fired the shots told Martin: “I was in fear for my life, the most scared I have ever been in 16 years of doing this line of work. I held Jeffrey’s hand until rescue arrived and he passed away.”

In interviews with Virginia State Police, Martin said Bruce’s mother said her son was “hateful” earlier in the day on May 14.

According to Martin’s report, “She further told investigators on that day that Jeffrey was ‘wild, like a caged animal,’ that the man she was looking at that day was not her son, ‘it was the devil.’” His sister allegedly seemed to echo her mother’s sentiments about her brother.

In his report, Martin said “a person may use deadly force in self-defense when he reasonably feels he is in imminent danger of serious bodily harm or death.”

In this situation, Martin said the deputy felt he was in danger and in fear of his life.

“Clearly his fear was entirely reasonable, as a man with a deadly weapon raised above his head was running toward him and screaming. The deputies actions in this matter were entirely appropriate,” Martin said.

You can read the full report below.

Statement released on Jeffrey Bruce's death.
Statement released on Jeffrey Bruce's death.(Credit: Augusta Co. Commonwealth's Attorney)
Jeffrey Bruce update
Jeffrey Bruce update(Credit: Augusta Co. Commonwealth's Attorney)

ORIGINAL REPORT (May 15): Virginia State Police identified a man who died after being shot by an Augusta County Sheriff’s deputy on Friday.

On Friday afternoon, deputies were responding to a 911 call for somebody breaking into a home on Blue Fish Lane.

According to VSP, deputies encountered a man who ran away from the home and into the woods behind it. The deputies followed the man, but at the wood line, investigators said Jeffrey Bruce, 48, turned around, wielding a knife and charged toward the deputy. The agency said the deputy shot Bruce and despite efforts by EMS, Bruce died.

Virginia State Police are handling the investigation at the request of Augusta County Sheriff Donald Smith.

Smith said the deputy involved was placed on administrative leave, per procedure. The identity of the deputy was not released.

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