ROANOKE, Va. – U.S. Marshals say they recovered a rifle while searching the Hollins area of Roanoke Wednesday afternoon, but they say the weapon is not connected to the search for accused murderer Michael Brown.
U.S. Marshals say they plan to elaborate further regarding the rifle and the search for Brown during a press conference on Thursday at 3 p.m.
Authorities were searching the Hollins area after receiving a report of suspicious activity.
Around noon Wednesday, heavily-armed marshals were seen walking around the intersection of Hollins Road and Nell Drive.
“This morning, I just saw U.S. Marshals outside of our bathroom window and he had an automatic rifle. Of course, that was very shocking," a resident on Nell Drive, who didn’t want to be identified, said. "Nobody really knows where he is. It’s very, very unnerving.”
As the search was taking place, Mike Bowie was moving furniture into a home on Nell Drive.
The search did not phase him.
“I was wondering what was going on, but it didn’t make me nervous," Bowie said. "If he was going to shoot anybody else or do anything additional he would’ve already done it.”
There have been no confirmed sightings of Brown in the Hollins area but he is believed to be in the New River Valley and Roanoke Valley area, U.S. Marshal Brad Sellers said.
“Over the last eleven days, we’re getting all kinds of tips from the public. (Wednesday’s search) was just another check. Information came in of a possible sighting. There’s nothing we have at this point to confirm it, but obviously, you’re seeing a large police presence only because we don’t know what’s going to be substantiated and what’s not,” Sellers said.
The longer the search goes on, the more strained the marshals’ resources become, he said, but marshals are not going to give up.
“Law enforcement, our personnel, the partners that we’re working with, are going to continue to stay vigilant. I would love as much as the public and the media would love for this to be over soon, but we’re prepared for it to go on for a lot longer," Sellers said.
Possible sightings have also been reported in the city of Roanoke and Montgomery and Franklin counties.
Daily press conferences regarding the search for Michael Brown will continue on weekdays at 3 p.m. starting Thursday. 10 News will be present at every press conference.