Large police presence remained for hours after Catawba man's arrest

CATAWBA, Va. – Police swarmed a quiet Roanoke County neighborhood Thursday morning as they worked to execute a search warrant.

Even after state police arrested Andrew Ray at a home on Keffer Road near the post office on Catawba Creek Road there was a strong police presence in the neighborhood for most of the day.

Ray is charged with shoplifting and being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, according to the Roanoke County Jail.

The shoplifting charge stems from an incident that occurred earlier this week at a retail store in Montgomery County, according to state police.

State police explained the large police presence by sending this statement to 10 News:

Resources needed for the execution of a search warrant are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Because the individual we were searching for is a convicted felon, use of the tactical measures utilized to effect the warrant are standard practice for the purpose of public and officer safety. 

Ray does have a pretty lengthy criminal history with convictions dating back to 2009. He's been convicted of crimes ranging from breaking and entering to selling marijuana and traffic violations.

Two children were brought out of the home by state police around 9:30 a.m., but authorities did not explain why they were removed. 

The warrant is related to an ongoing, criminal investigation and it is not related to the triple murder investigation in Pittsylvania County, according to Virginia State Police Sgt. Rick Garletts.

Tommy Barlow lives across the road from Ray. He said he tried to drive home Thursday morning, but police were blocking off the street. 

He said his wife was at home and he feared for her safety. 

"I just knew it was something serious," Barlow said. "With just what happened in Pittsylvania County, you don't know this day and time what people are capable of doing. So, when I finally was able to get her on the phone and realized she was OK, it was a relief."

He added that Ray and his family seemed friendly and quiet and never had problems. "I can honestly say I've never, I've never seen anything, saw them do anything that I feared for my life or was scared," Barlow said.

However, he did say there was one time, about a year ago, when several police cars showed up at Ray's house.

"We didn't see anything abnormal or out of the ordinary after that until today," Barlow said."I guess it's, hits at home. I mean it's right across the street."

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