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Stockpile of explosives found in home of Valley man killed in NY police shootout

Livingston County Sheriff's deputies were in pursuit of a tractor-trailer Wednesday night after the driver reportedly fired shots at deputies after being pulled over.
Livingston County Sheriff's deputies were in pursuit of a tractor-trailer Wednesday night after the driver reportedly fired shots at deputies after being pulled over.(WHSV)
Published: Jun. 4, 2020 at 7:42 PM EDT
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Federal and state officials found a stockpile of explosive devices on the property of a Shenandoah Valley man who was killed after a shootout with police on a New York highway last week.

Last Friday, WHSV was there as Virginia State Police, local law enforcement agencies, and FBI agents

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According to the FBI's Richmond Field Office, Virginia State Police and FBI agents were jointly investigating Blessed's property to "conduct lawful searches" following his attempted attacks on law enforcement in New York earlier in the week.

A spokesperson for the FBI told WHSV that they could not confirm more since it's an active investigation, including if officers located anything, but said "although alarming for community members, there is no threat or further concern for their safety."

In the days since, WHSV has followed up with Virginia State Police and the FBI, and the FBI said that while they could confirm they searched the property, they could not and "will not be discussing what we were looking for nor what was found."

"Nor have we commented on what we believe his intentions may have been. This remains an ongoing investigation and we will not be releasing further information," an FBI spokesperson said.

Virginia State Police pointed us to the FBI's response.

However, an official with the Rockingham County Sheriff's Office confirmed to WHSV that they had assisted the FBI and Virginia State Police with the investigation into Blessed. While the agency is not leading the investigation, they said Blessed was definitely "making and stockpiling explosive devices" and it was "safe to say that he was an extremist."

According to the official, Blessed had been on the FBI's watchlist for some of the radical views he expressed on social media. Blessed, formerly known as Sergia Jourev before a name change not long after his family moved to Virginia in 2005, was tied by law enforcement to a number of YouTube videos and social media posts that were explicitly anti-law enforcement.

, our ABC affiliate in New York, Joshua Blessed was blocked from Facebook twice for posts calling people "liars" and "false accusers" and telling them to repent before they die. Facebook says the posts violated harassment and bullying policies.

He was also believed to be responsible for a number of YouTube videos for a channel he called "Prophecy of Yahweh." Earlier this year, his Facebook page featured an extensive post predicting civil war in America, including a "Russian invasion on the east and China on the west" and called for people to prepare for guerrilla warfare.

"What was his last 24 hours? What led to such an extreme encounter with police?" said Sheriff Thomas Dougherty, of the Livingston County Sheriff's Office in New York, in a press conference. "Some answers, we might never have."

Around 8:37 p.m. on Wednesday, May 27, according to Sheriff Dougherty, Blessed was driving a tractor trailer along Interstate 390 in New York when a deputy tried to pull him over for speeding and he refused to comply, instead launching a high speed pursuit that turned violent, with Blessed allegedly opening fire on pursuing officers.

The truck Blessed was driving was owned by Yurman Express LLC, a Harrisonburg company. According to the owner of Yurman Express, the truck was theirs under a lease and Blessed had been contracted as a driver to pick up dairy products in Batavia, NY.

After refusing to comply with the deputy pulling him over Wednesday night, police say Blessed tried to ram oncoming vehicles, including law enforcement, and fired shots at law enforcement during the chase, as well as making multiple U-turns in his rig to try and throw off the pursuing vehicles.

Blessed "showed no regard for human life," according to Dougherty, throughout the pursuit.

Eventually, Blessed was stopped near the town of Geneseo, where police fired back at Blessed, striking him.

Just before 10 p.m., Blessed was taken into custody with gunshot wounds and died shortly afterward from his injuries.

No law enforcement or civilians were injured during the course of the chase. The Rockingham County Sheriff's Office said it was "amazing that nobody got hurt" considering Blessed's apparent intentions.

Investigation into the incident and Blessed is still ongoing.

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