Press Release — Ennis Pursuit



Mark A. But­ler, Sher­iff


Vehi­cle Pur­suit – April 02, 2022

The War­ren Coun­ty Sheriff’s Office presents this infor­ma­tion­al brief­ing in the inter­est of being respon­si­ble and trans­par­ent to the pub­lic we serve. We acknowl­edge that any inci­dent involv­ing law enforce­ment often gen­er­ates great inter­est; how­ev­er, some ques­tions at the onset of an inves­ti­ga­tion can­not be answered because it may be pre­ma­ture to do so until all the facts are gath­ered and eval­u­at­ed by those agen­cies respon­si­ble to inves­ti­gate. The fol­low­ing is a sum­ma­ry of the events relat­ed to a recent vehi­cle pur­suit that occurred in the Coun­ty of War­ren on April 02, 2022.

On Sat­ur­day, April 02, 2022 at approx­i­mate­ly 01:21 AM, a War­ren Coun­ty Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) deputy observed a red 2016, Ford F‑150 pick­up truck south­bound on Win­ches­ter Road near Route 639, trav­el­ling 63 miles an hour in a post­ed 55 MPH zone. The deputy pro­ceed­ed to fol­low the vehi­cle and observed it dri­ving errat­i­cal­ly, sway­ing side to side, cross­ing the cen­ter line, weav­ing back and forth between the two lanes, and even­tu­al­ly cross­ing over the sold line onto the shoul­der of the roadway.

The deputy acti­vat­ed his emer­gency lights in an attempt to get the dri­ver to stop. The dri­ver, lat­er iden­ti­fied as Ralph Carl­ton Ennis, age 77, of Gainesville, Vir­ginia, con­tin­ued to avoid stop­ping and drove errat­i­cal­ly south­bound on Win­ches­ter Road. The pur­suit con­tin­ued due to the driver’s actions being con­sis­tent with a per­son dri­ving impaired and reck­less­ly pos­ing a threat to them­selves and the public.

As the pur­suit con­tin­ued approx­i­mate­ly 3.75 miles, the dri­ver refused to yield to the deputy’s emer­gency vehi­cle even after dis­play­ing emer­gency lights and siren. The pur­suit approached the inter­sec­tion of Win­ches­ter Road and Coun­try Club Road, which is the gate­way to the more pop­u­lat­ed area of the Town of Front Royal.

The WCSO Patrol Super­vi­sor request­ed the assis­tance of the Front Roy­al Police Depart­ment, for the deploy­ment of stop sticks in the event they were nec­es­sary to stop the flee­ing vehi­cle. At approx­i­mate­ly 01:24 AM, the dri­ver of the Ford truck improp­er­ly drove across the warn­ing track mark­ings of Win­ches­ter Road and entered the park­ing lot of the Roy­al Farms gas and con­ve­nience store.

The dri­ver con­tin­ued to the 7–11 Store at 251 Crooked Run Plaza, where Mr. Ennis parked his truck in a park­ing area adja­cent to the store. By this time, addi­tion­al WCSO deputies and a Front Roy­al Police Offi­cer were on scene, or just arriv­ing as the high-risk traf­fic stop was underway.

A WCSO deputy gave com­mands to the dri­ver to exit his truck, which he did, and imme­di­ate­ly walked toward the deputies. Mr. Ennis refused to com­ply with com­mands to stop, turn around and to drop his vehi­cles keys, which he held in his hand.

Mr. Ennis’ con­tin­ued fail­ure to com­ply with the law­ful orders to stop, result­ed in a WCSO deputy approach­ing Mr. Ennis from behind, and grab­bing his arms in an attempt to con­trol Ennis and place him under arrest. The deputy con­tin­ued to give him com­mands to stop resist­ing, drop the keys and place his hands behind his back as Mr. Ennis was escort­ed sev­er­al feet away to the rear of his pick­up truck.

While attempt­ing to restrain Mr. Ennis, two deputies and Ennis fell over the pro­trud­ing trail­er hitch of his pick­up truck. Mr. Ennis sus­tained non-life threat­en­ing injuries, such as a cut to the ring fin­ger of his right hand caused by the jagged edge of his truck tail­gate, and a cut above his right brow near his forehead.

The deputies were able to hand­cuff Mr. Ennis with­out fur­ther inci­dent, sat him upright in the recov­ery posi­tion and imme­di­ate­ly treat­ed his head and hand wound as addi­tion­al med­ical assis­tance was sum­moned. Mr. Ennis was con­scious and respond­ing to med­ical ques­tions pri­or to being trans­port­ed by the War­ren Coun­ty Fire and Res­cue ambu­lance to War­ren Memo­r­i­al Hos­pi­tal (WMH) at 02:06 AM. One WCSO deputy sus­tained a lac­er­a­tion on his hand dur­ing the attempt to restrain and arrest the dri­ver. The deputy was treat­ed and released at WMH for his injury.

At the WMH, Mr. Ennis was treat­ed for his injuries and while con­vers­ing with doc­tors it was deter­mined he was exhibit­ing signs of a hem­or­rhage with­in his head, and was soon trans­port­ed by ambu­lance to Win­ches­ter Med­ical Cen­ter for fur­ther eval­u­a­tion. While at the WMH it became appar­ent to med­ical staff that Mr. Ennis was exhibit­ing signs of hav­ing cog­ni­tive issues con­sis­tent with demen­tia or Alzheimer’s and men­tal health assis­tance was sought through North­west­ern Com­mu­ni­ty Ser­vices; how­ev­er, pro­vid­ing him imme­di­ate phys­i­cal care took prece­dence over men­tal hygiene efforts at that time.

The crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion by the WCSO was paused out of neces­si­ty due to Mr. Ennis being admit­ted to the hos­pi­tal. It was deter­mined Mr. Ennis had recent­ly been report­ed as miss­ing by his wife on March 11, 2022, and was lat­er locat­ed in the Town of Front Roy­al. Con­ver­sa­tions with his fam­i­ly revealed Mr. Ennis had a his­to­ry of men­tal ill­ness and demen­tia. Crim­i­nal charges against Mr. Ennis remained open due to the active and ongo­ing inves­ti­ga­tion. This mat­ter was con­cur­rent­ly being inves­ti­gat­ed by the Vir­ginia State Police, with the full sup­port and coop­er­a­tion of the Sheriff’s Office.

On April 15, 2022 at approx­i­mate­ly 10:37 AM, the WCSO was noti­fied by an Inves­ti­ga­tor with the Office of the Chief Med­ical Exam­in­er of Vir­ginia that Ralph Ennis had passed away at 04:08 AM under the care of Blue Ridge Hos­pice of Win­ches­ter, Vir­ginia. Mr. Ennis had been in the care of Win­ches­ter Hos­pi­tal since being admit­ted on April 02, 2022. The WCSO request­ed and was grant­ed a full med­ical exam­i­na­tion of Mr. Ennis, that was con­duct­ed on April 15th at 01:30 PM with the knowl­edge and sup­port of the Com­mon­wealth Attorney’s Office. Actu­al cause of death is pend­ing offi­cial noti­fi­ca­tion by the Med­ical Examiner’s Office.

The WCSO wish­es to thank the media for their inter­est and patience as the facts of this event become clear­er. We also ask the public’s assis­tance in that any­one hav­ing infor­ma­tion rel­e­vant to this inci­dent to please con­tact Major Jef­frey Driskill of the War­ren Coun­ty Sheriff’s Office at 540 636‑5922 or by email at The WCSO is con­duct­ing an inter­nal inves­ti­ga­tion of the inci­dent and com­pli­ance with estab­lished pol­i­cy, train­ing and procedures.

Approved for release on April 16, 2022: Major Jef­frey Driskill, Sr., Major