UPDATE 10:44 a.m. (5/13/22): Virginia State Police shared new details about Thursday afternoon’s police chase along I-81 in the Roanoke Valley, which left two officers injured and a reckless driver behind bars for a number of charges, including “throwing a missile from a vehicle.”

According to police, a caller complained about an SUV pulling a trailer that was driving recklessly on I-81 South. In addition, the caller reported that the SUV was traveling with red and blue flashing lights, coming from inside the vehicle. 

State troopers say they found the SUV in Botetourt County at mile marker 158 on I-81 South and tried to stop the vehicle, which resulted in a pursuit ensued. 

Authorities tell WFXR News the driver tried to escape police by speeding up — reaching speeds above 90 mph — and throwing items out of the SUV toward the officers. 

The SUV reportedly continued south into Roanoke County, where it crossed the grass median at mile marker 144 and started traveling north on I-81. Officers ended the chase by using a tire deflation device, which disabled the vehicle near the Troutville exit at mile marker 150.

Officials say the driver got out of the vehicle and followed commands to get on the ground, but as state troopers and Botetourt County deputies approached the man, he started to resist arrest. After a short struggle, though, he was taken into custody. 

According to authorities, 39-year-old Roberto Jasser Villarreal Rios of Elizabeth, N.J., was taken to Roanoke Memorial Hospital for the minor injuries he received during the arrest. After being released from the hospital, he was brought to the Botetourt County Jail, where is currently being held without bond. 

Police say Rios was charged with the following: 

  • Six counts of throwing a missile from a vehicle
  • Felony eluding
  • Reckless driving
  • Two counts of assault on a law enforcement officer
  • Destruction of property
  • Resisting arrest
  • Impersonating a police officer

Meanwhile, two officers reportedly sustained minor injuries during the arrest, but they were treated and released at the scene.



UPDATE 3:38 p.m.: VDOT says Thursday afternoon’s traffic backups have cleared along I-81 North in Botetourt County following a police chase that resulted in an injured man’s arrest.



UPDATE 2:28 p.m.: A man has been arrested after leading state troopers on a pursuit along I-81 in Botetourt County on Thursday, which caused several miles of backups.

Virginia State Police were responding to a reckless driving call when they found the suspect vehicle heading southbound at mile marker 170 of I-81, which resulted in a chase.

The pursuit ended when the vehicle was disabled by stop sticks at the Troutville scales, according to officials.

Authorities tell WFXR News that the driver resisted arrest, even jumping onto the north side of the interstate while trying to get away. However, he is now on the way to Roanoke Memorial Hospital to be treated for the injuries he received while being taken into custody.

As of this writing, traffic cameras are still showing delays between mile marker 143 and mile marker 151.2, but says all northbound lanes are back open at mile marker 151.2 amid the police activity.



UPDATE 1:50 p.m.: VDOT says the Botetourt County lane closures caused by “security/police activity” have shifted from mile marker 150.2 to 151.2 on I-81 North.

At this time, only the northbound right shoulder and right lane are closed at mile marker 151.2 on I-81 due to this activity, according to VDOT.

Even though the department says motorists are only delayed for two miles along I-81 North, the 511 traffic cameras show delays all the way past mile marker 143.

WFXR News has reached out to Virginia State Police for more information about the police activity causing these backups.



BOTETOURT COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — Botetourt County motorists are backed up for several miles due to “security/police activity” blocking off all lanes I-81 North.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) says all northbound lanes are closed at mile marker 150.2 on I-81 due to this activity.

Traffic cameras show motorists backed up from mile marker 149 past mile marker 146.

This is a developing story.