Local pastor speaks about his arrest at the Salem Gun Show

Roanoke Valley News

SALEM, Va. (WFXR) – The senior pastor for Cowboy Church of Virginia is defending himself after he was arrested at the C&E Salem Gun Show on Saturday.

Pastor Raymond Bell says he went to the exhibition on Saturday, July 17 to purchase a replacement firearm for one that has become unserviceable. After filling out the required paperwork, he says he was told there was a delay with the state computer system.

“I thought okay something’s odd about this because this individual purchased [a gun] on the same system that won’t allow me to purchase it,” he said.

About 30 minutes later, the Cowboy Church pastor was approached by an officer with the Salem Police Department, telling him a warrant had been issued for his arrest in June 2020.

“In June of last year, I entered a construction zone off of Highway 116 in which a chain of events occurred. As I was following the directions of the flagman involved, who made an error — it was determined that the flagman did make an error — and put my vehicle into a wrong lane,” said Bell. “A construction vehicle entered that lane simultaneously and while we never made contact it forced me off the road to avoid impact.”

According to Bel, he called police in an attempt to follow a law that, he says, requires one to stay at the scene of any traffic incident inside a construction zone. While waiting for authorities to arrive, he says four other construction workers approached him and verbally threatened him.

“The four men announced that they were going to ‘kick my [expletive]’ and began to advance towards me with the intent to cause bodily harm,” he said.

Bell says he then secured his weapon from his vehicle. However, the four men ran away, so, according to Bell, they never saw the gun.

Roanoke County spokesperson Amy Whittaker says reports indicate the construction workers told police Bell threatened them with the firearm.

According to Whittaker, the responding officer was unable to determine exactly what happened and did not arrest anyone at the scene; however, a magistrate later issued a warrant for Bell’s arrest on a misdemeanor charge of brandishing a weapon.

Bell says he never knew the warrant was issued until he attended the gun show Saturday.

An arraignment for the charge is scheduled for Wednesday, July 21.

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