KEELING, Va. – Police have arrested 19-year-old Matthew Bernard after they say he killed the wife, son and mother-in-law of a prominent minor league baseball player on Tuesday, Fox News reported.
Authorities have just released some of the details regarding the victims after they were murdered in what appeared to be a triple homicide committed by a family member.
Officials say that Blake Bivens is a pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays minor league team. His wife, son and mother-in-law were victims of Bernard’s rampage on Tuesday. Police say that Bernard is Bivens’ late wife’s brother.
A discovery of the dead bodies led police on a three-hour manhunt which eventually ended with a naked Bernard in custody. The Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Office says that Bernard now faces three counts of first-degree murder.
Reports indicate that authorities received a 911 call around 8 a.m. that reported a body had been found at a residence on Keeling Drive in Pittsylvania County, Virginia.
When officers arrived on scene at the home on Keeling Drive, they found three deceased individuals that included two woman and one child. One victim was found outside on the ground in the driveway, and the other two were located inside the house.
Sources say that an individual who was visiting the neighborhood had spotted the body in the driveway and made the call to report it to authorities.
The main suspect in the attacks was 19-year-old Matthew Thomas Bernard. Bernard reportedly lived in the home with and was related to the three victims.
Bernard was not at the home when police arrived and it was reported that he fled into the woods near the scene.
A BOLO [Be On The Lookout] was issued to officers patrolling in the area searching for Bernard, with his description. Authorities also released a description of Bernard to news stations and advised residents to be aware and on the lookout for him – explaining he should be considered ‘armed and dangerous’.
Just an awful tragedy: The wife and child of Blake Bivens, a Double-A pitcher in the Tampa Bay Rays organization, were among three people killed in rural Virginia on Tuesday, sources tell ESPN. Police have charged Bivens’ wife’s brother with first-degree homicide.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) August 28, 2019
As reported by ABC 13 News:
“Dan River High School, Dan River Middle School, Kentuck Elementary School, Southside Elementary School, Chatham Middle School, Chatham High School, Regional Alternative School and the Pittsylvania Career and Technical Center were placed on Code Orange. [A] Code Orange means exterior doors and teachers’ classroom doors remain locked, students are not permitted to go outside and administration monitors hallways and entrances.”
Police also put Danville Community College into a lockdown because it was reported that Bernard was a student there. There was no direct threat to the college however.
Sources also stated that schools were told to stay in lock down until the suspect was located or the surrounding area was fully searched and clear.
We’re with you, Blake. pic.twitter.com/gJqdUCIf7p
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) August 28, 2019
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K-9 officers were brought into the area to search for Bernard in the wooded area near the home. Witness statements released stated that Bernard was last seen in blue jeans and a white shirt. It was also reported that Bernard had a rifle with him.
After some time of searching the area, witnesses explained that Bernard ran out of the woods and towards a media staging area which was close to the crime scene. Bernard ran directly towards an officer who took out his pepper spray and sprayed Bernard in the face.
He then ran around the officer several times in a circle after being sprayed, making several attempts to charge at the officer.
It is reported that after Bernard was sprayed with pepper spray by the officer, he ran through a media staging area and then he took off running into a nearby parking lot.
In that parking lot, police say Bernard was seen attempting to choke an elderly church employee who was trying to get into his vehicle.
When police caught up to Bernard, an officer struck him in the arm with his baton to break his hold on the elderly man.
Bernard than took off running again down the street and right into a grouping of officers where he was again pepper spray and tased. He was placed in handcuffs and taken into custody.
Bernard conducted his entire melee outside the crime scene – completely naked. When officers took Bernard into custody, he had no weapons on his person.
EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: The suspect in a triple homicide in Pittsylvania County, 19-year-old Matthew Bernard, ran toward @KyleMWilcoxTV & @humphreyWSET while they were at a staging area — he also strangled the church's caretaker.https://t.co/4OVjvg9kkQ pic.twitter.com/cg23z2KIEX
— ABC 13 News – WSET (@ABC13News) August 27, 2019
After taking Bernard into custody, he was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.
The Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Office held a press conference explaining that they would not release the names of the victims until family or next of kin could be notified. Pittsylvania County Sheriff Mike Taylor went on to explain that the victims’ bodies would be transported to the Roanoke medical examiners office, where they would attempt to determine the cause of death through autopsies.
Warrants were issued for Bernard and he was arrested for three counts of Murder. According to WDBJ7 News Bernard has not yet been scheduled for his first court appearance. The investigation is ongoing.
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