| Joshua Blessed
The Virginia-based trucker whom Le Roy police encountered May 27, starting a perilous chase that eventually led to his death, was a credible threat to cops and civilians, Livingston County Sheriff Thomas J. Dougherty said yesterday in a press conference.
The bombs, guns and ammo Joshua Blessed had stored in his private vehicle and the bedroom he was renting in Rockingham County, Va., along with is social media posting, indicate Blessed was planning something big.
But it wasn't part of his plan in May, Dougherty said, to engage with law enforcement on that day.
"Our investigation shows that Blessed really was on the road to Batavia and what prompted this and triggered Blessed this day was the proactive traffic stop by the Le Roy Police Department," Dougherty said.
Blessed's white tractor-trailer, owned by Yurman Express, based in Harrisonburg, Va., was stopped by Le Roy PD officers in the Village of Le Roy for speeding on Main Street. The trailer was empty, which lends credence to the theory, Dougherty said, that Blessed really was driving to Batavia to pick up dairy product.
The search by the FBI of Blessed private vehicle in Virginia turned up three IEDs (improvised explosive devices), an AK-17, 9mm magazines, and $18,000 in cash.
A search of the bedroom he was renting -- Blessed, previously known as Sergia Journev, had apparently not been living with is family for at least 18 months -- found 11 IEDs, an AK-47 with a scope, a .50-caliber rifle, a .338 sniper rifle, thousands of rounds of ammunition, and $130,000 in cash.
Blessed had made several social media posts attacking law enforcement and promoting violence against police officers.
"The traffic stop set him off," Dougherty said. "That doesn't mean he didn't have a plan for the future. Based on what was recovered in the vehicle and in the bedroom, he certainly had a plan for the future. What that plan was, I don't have that information."
There is no indication that others were specifically involved in Blessed's planning, Dougherty said. That may be part of an ongoing FBI investigation.
"There are no details showing an immediate concern either here or there," Dougherty said.
Blessed died of a gunshot wound to the head. He also suffered three gunshots to his hip. Two deputies were firing long guns at Blessed at the time the shoot-out came to its fatal conclusion. The bullet that killed Blessed has not been recovered. Dougherty said he would not release the names of the deputies firing at Blessed at the time he was killed.
Blessed fired at least 24 rounds at cops. There were 24 shell casings recovered. His empty magazines indicate he fired at least 29 shots but that doesn't mean he hadn't discarded empty magazines somewhere along the way. A magazine for Blessed's 9mm Glock with seven rounds still in it was recovered, along a magazine containing 17 rounds (the capacity of the magazines Blessed was using).
Deputies from Livingston and Genesee counties returned fire at least 129 times in four different locations along the chase route, with 48 rounds fired at the final standoff location at Route 20a and Morgan View Road.
The incident started at 8:37 p.m. with the traffic stop in Le Roy and ended with Blessed death at 9:27 p.m. The chase went through Le Roy and Stafford before Blessed executed a U-turn and headed back toward Le Roy, going to Route 19 south into Wyoming County and then into Livingston County.
Dougherty said during the chase he remembered thinking that the driver was a danger to the public and to his officers but that he was also a highly skilled driver.
“This is a very unique situation," Dougherty said. "Somebody said to me, ‘that’s once in a career.’ This isn’t once in a career. You could serve multiple careers in law enforcement and never encounter a heavy vehicle, it’s pretty much impossible to stop unless you have a heavier vehicle and then add in an active shooter, a guy who is actively trying to kill cops. That’s something that is more Hollywoodesque than reality."
It was a miracle, with all the bullets flying around, the high-speed chase, Blessed's clear intention to harm other people, that nobody besides Blessed lost any blood.
"Not even a scratch," Dougherty said.
Photos: Livingston County Sheriff's Office.
Thanks to our news partner 13WHAM for video of the press conference.