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Man arrested for attacking panhandler and police in Bristol, police say

Trooper came to rescue of panhandler

BRISTOL, Va. – A 60-year-old man faces more than a dozen charges after beating a panhandler on the side of an Interstate 81 exit ramp on Monday, according to state police.

A. Victor Absher, 60, of Abingdon, is being held at the Bristol Jail on multiple charges to include three charges of assault on a police officer, domestic assault, malicious wounding, being drunk in public, disorderly conduct, obstruction of justice, resisting arrest, and illegal possession of a controlled substance.

At about 12:35 p.m., Virginia State Police Trooper B.S. Davis was traveling on Old Airport Road when he pulled up to the intersection at Interstate 81’s Exit 7.

He looked over at the off-ramp from I-81 north and says he saw a shirtless, man jump out from the passenger side of a Ford van stopped at the light. 

The man, later identified as Absher, was armed with a wooden stick, about the size and width of a baseball bat, and began using it to beat an 18-year-old man panhandler standing on the side of the exit ramp at the intersection, according to police.

Davis immediately ran to the 18-year-old’s aid and police say it took  Davis and several other troopers to take Absher into custody as he was extremely combative and refused to cooperate with the troopers’ commands.

He was finally placed inside a Bristol police vehicle for transport to the jail.

Further investigation by Davis resulted in the domestic violence charge against Absher for assaulting the woman driving the Ford van. The woman refused to be transported for treatment of her non-life-threatening injuries.

The 18-year-old man refused to be transported for treatment of his non-life-threatening injuries.

Virginia State Police Sgt. T.M. Atwell treated the teenager to a meal at a nearby restaurant. A trooper then gave him a ride to the nearest bus station and purchased him a bus ticket so he could safely continue on his way.

The incident remains under investigation.