'He’s real lucky’: Man recovering after being shot on I-77 by suspect who is still at large

Victim in serious but non-life-threatening condition

BLAND COUNTY, Va. – A man is recovering after a shocking crime along I-77 on Friday morning.

State police are still looking for the person who opened fire on the interstate, shooting a man as he drove through Bland County.

Some members of the small community are feeling uneasy - even shocked - after the incident. Some said they couldn’t believe the victim was shot while he was driving and still managed to pull over, without crashing or hurting anyone else.

The owner of the company that towed away the victim’s car after the shooting says he’s seen a lot of crashes in more than 40 years of business, but this is one job he’ll remember.

“I was called out to get the car about 8 o’clock. They said there had been a shooting. I went out and picked the vehicle upand took it to Virginia State Police headquarters in Wytheville, VA," said Charles “Jr.” Akers, owner of Akers Towing & Recovery.

State police say a 40-year-old Tazewell County man was driving a burgundy Toyota Corolla on I-77 north through Bland County just before 5:30 a.m. when a gold Pontiac Montana minivan pulled up beside his car near mile marker 63 and opened fire.

“They said the man had been shot in the shoulder and ... knicked him on top of the head,” said Akers.

Investigators say the victim was able to safely pull over and call 911. He was then rushed to Wytheville Community Hospital for serious, but non-life-threatening injuries.

Doug Rainey owns Woody’s Grill just off the interstate. He got an unexpected early morning visit from state police.

“(They) wanted to look at our video because of the off-chance that they had gotten off at this exit,” said Rainey.

As a precaution, all Bland County schools were closed on Friday, which was supposed to be the first day back after winter break. School officials say schools are planned to be open Monday.

Akers’ granddaughter, Eden Holbrook, stayed home from school.

“I was pretty scared. I went around the doors and made sure they were locked," Holbrook said.

State police continue to search for a suspect, and some in Bland County are still on edge after the shocking crime.

“He’s real lucky, the man was. Real lucky. Could’ve got killed real easy," said Akers.

Police believe the van continued north on I-77 toward West Virginia.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call Virginia State Police.

About the Authors:

You can watch Lindsey during Virginia Today every weekend or as a reporter during the week!

Samantha Smith joined WSLS 10’s award-winning digital team as a content producer in July 2018.