ONTD Political

83-year-old grandmother calls 911; police arrive and shoot her three times

5:18 pm - 09/25/2012
Police in Altavista, Virginia say they had no choice but to shoot an 83-year-old Christian grandmother because she would not drop her gun during a standoff.

Delma Towler, 83, grandmother and active participant in her local church was gunned down by police after she called 911. Records indicate that Towler called 911 and hung up the phone without making a report.

The call trigged an automatic dispatch of police to Towler's residence. Upon arriving police claim to have heard gunshots from inside the home. There was no indication that Towler was attempting to shoot at the police.

When law enforcement came to the front door, Towler ran out the back door apparently in fear that the police were actually criminals. At this time she was still armed.

It was locally reported by WDBJ7.com that the Virginia State Police (VSP) issued the following statement:

"Altavista Police Officers made several attempts to determine if anyone was inside Delma Towler's home and then heard shots fired from inside.

"Officers took cover and watched her leave the house with a gun in her hand. They followed her as she walked up to another home.
They approached Towler, and commanded her repeatedly to put down her gun. Officers say she refused and pointed her weapon at them. She was then shot and died at the scene."

Allegedly shots were fired from inside the home, but forensic evidence has not been made public yet to confirm this. Towler's son, Robert Barbour, says that if his mother did discharge her weapon it would only have been to scare away an intruder. He says, "Mom ain't gonna hurt no police officer or nobody else. She was a good Christian woman and she wouldn't hurt a soul."

In analyzing the official statement by the VSP, their reasoning is curious. They claim Towler was walking up to another home, but that home was owned by her sister. Robert Barbour claims, "My aunt was holding the door open for her to come in and my aunt said she heard three shots like bang, bang, bang and she went down."

Police claim they commanded Towler to put down her weapon, and that she refused. They claim that she then pointed her weapon at the officers, and they had no choice but to open fire on the senior citizen to protect their own lives.

For this statement to be true several things also have to be true. The police's statement implies a conversation between Towler and officers in that backyard. For Towler to point the weapon at officers, this means it was not pointed at them when they demanded she drop the weapon.

Therefore the police claim they accosted an armed elderly Delma Towler, and after identifying themselves as police officers and telling her to drop her weapon she instead, while being surrounded, raised her weapon? This is the official rational offered by police.

Draw your own conclusions.

freezer 26th-Sep-2012 02:02 am (UTC)
Therefore the police claim they accosted an armed elderly Delma Towler, and after identifying themselves as police officers and telling her to drop her weapon she instead, while being surrounded, raised her weapon?

I've seen video of people doing just that: Brandishing a weapon while surronded by armed cops. I have no doubt there was fear and confusion on the woman's part that led to her actions. I also know that police are trained and have it drilled into them that, if a subject points a weapon at you, take them down. Period.

This is a tragedy, not a crime.
teacoat 26th-Sep-2012 02:15 am (UTC)
Right, because no cop has ever lied to make themself look better.
sweetnessarose 26th-Sep-2012 02:04 am (UTC)
RIP :(
fishphile 26th-Sep-2012 02:26 am (UTC)
This is a very sad thing. This is fairly close to where my folks live.

So far, this whole thing is a little shady. From another article:

Neighbors were upset Friday evening, saying investigators haven’t spoken to those in the area who may have seen something.

All eight residents of 10th Street who were home Friday evening said investigators hadn’t been to their homes. Both residents who were home and had houses behind Towler’s said the same.


Edited at 2012-09-26 02:28 am (UTC)
aviv_b 26th-Sep-2012 02:27 am (UTC)
Poor women, but if she wasn't 'Christian' would this be less of a tragedy?
yamamanama 26th-Sep-2012 02:39 am (UTC)
If she was a Muslim instead, they'd call her a terrorist or say that Al Qaeda is using grannies or some such drivel.
bizwac 26th-Sep-2012 02:40 am (UTC)
Yeah, I was side-eying at that inclusion.
paulnolan 26th-Sep-2012 02:41 am (UTC)
Yeah, that raised my eyebrow too somewhat.
lb_x 26th-Sep-2012 04:49 am (UTC)
Pure speculation because I know nothing beyond what is in this article, but her age and the way the article makes her sound slightly paranoid about burglers makes me think there could be another side to this. My grandfather used to insist that "the people upstairs" were coming to kill him, and got very aggressive, refused to sleep, etc. It in no way justifies shooting a woman three times, but it could be possible she wasn't in her right mind when the police showed up, and fear and confusion did lead to her pointing a weapon at them.

No matter what happened, it's a sad story. RIP.
tallycola 26th-Sep-2012 07:05 am (UTC)
Yes I definitely think she sounded confused. Such a shame.
atomic_joe2 26th-Sep-2012 08:53 am (UTC)
'No choice'? They could have, I don't know, talked to her for a bit longer.
freezer 26th-Sep-2012 02:09 pm (UTC)
'No choice'? They could have, I don't know, talked to her for a bit longer.

That's the thing: We don't know. Not yet, possibly not really ever.
bestdaywelived 27th-Sep-2012 01:15 am (UTC)
Talking works, except when, you know, guns are involved.
frelling_tralk 27th-Sep-2012 12:53 pm (UTC)
She was pointing a gun at them...
bestdaywelived 27th-Sep-2012 01:17 am (UTC)
From the article as read, it sounds like she was a paranoid elderly woman with a weapon who thought that burglars were coming to get her, without any real threat. My great-grandmother used to make my great-uncle keep a gun under his pillow so they could shoot at anyone in the yard "just in case". My parents wouldn't let us in their yard after dark because they might mistake us for a threat.

To me, this is a tragedy, and yet another reason why we need to start discussing why regular people shouldn't have guns. There was no reason for her to have a gun in her house, Christian or not.
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