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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Police Investigate Reported Hostage at Law Office

Police Investigate Reported Hostage at Law Office
The Daily Press/Virginia Newport News by Tyra M. Vaughn - March 21, 2012

Police have located the missing employee of a City Center law firm reported on Tuesday as being the subject of a hostage situation at the office.

 The man -- who was believed to have been held hostage -- was 33-year-old Justin Lawrence of Newport News, said Holly McPherson, spokeswoman for the Newport News Police Department. He was found unharmed Tuesday night at a relative's house, she said.

  Police have determined the hostage situation did not occur, McPherson said.

 Police descended on the office building at 728 Thimble Shoals Boulevard about 11:10 a.m. after being notified that a hostage situation was taking place. They were alerted to the possible hostage situation after an unidentified person received a text message from someone supposedly inside the building at the time being held hostage. 

McPherson said Wednesday police were not currently planning to release the contents of the text message.

 Newport News attorney Robert W. Lawrence works out of that office. Justin Lawrence is Robert Lawrence's son, McPherson said. He most recently worked in the firm as a law clerk. Police made several entries with weapons at ready into the building Tuesday during the three-hour standoff.  However, the situation ended with no hostage or assailant found, according to police. Officers -- including a tactical team -- searched all suites in the building, but withdrew after no one was found.
McPherson said detectives have decided not to press charges in the case.

 Robert Lawrence, who is a well-known criminal defense attorney,  said he’s still trying to piece together the incident, but has strong doubts about his son’s story.

 “I’m really not sure if I understand what happened,” he said. “But I’m not totally convinced that these are actual events that took place.” 

Lawrence said he was driving along Warwick Boulevard in Oyster Point just before 11 a.m. when his daughter-in-law called him on his cell phone, crying hysterically, saying she had received a disturbing text message from Justin Lawrence.

 “Meek is here in the office, and he wants money,” the message said. He also wrote in a text: “Come pick me up. We’ll go to the bank to get the money, and on the way there, we’ll call the police.”

 Lawrence said he has no idea who “Meek” is. Asked whether Justin had said he was being taken hostage, Lawrence said “I think it was implied” given that he referenced needing to withdraw money at the bank.

 After hanging up, Lawrence said he and his son’s wife both called 911 at about the same time.

McPherson said the incident inconvenienced police, businesses and people who were in the City Center area Tuesday.

"It's frustrating because of all the law enforcement manpower used in this situation," she said. "It also brought fear to the community because people didn't know what was going on and businesses were inconvenienced."

McPherson said the tactical team, in addition to patrol officers, hostage negotiators, public information officers and command staff responded to the incident. She did not know yet exactly how many law enforcement personnel were on the scene or the cost of the response.

 McPherson said police determine how they respond to hostage incidents on a case-by-case basis.

"We reacted based on the information we had at the time," she said. "Our number one priority is to protect and serve." 

Check back to for more on this developing story.


Anonymous said...

Most crimes happen at law offices... by crooked attorneys.

Anonymous said...

Does the lawyer apple fall far from the tree?

Anonymous said...

Isn't that what a retainer is for?

It holds you hostage to the attorney until they have sucked out every last cent from you, left you in debt and your case in shambles.

Then they throw you under the bus.

Certainly seems like being held hostage.

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