Man arrested after state trooper attacked with a hatchet at Southwest Virginia church

Gregory Graham arrested on one count of malicious wounding

GRAYSON COUNTY, Va. – Authorities have arrested the man they believe attacked an off-duty state trooper with a hatchet at a church in southwest Virginia on Sunday night.

On Tuesday, around 3:15 p.m., state police arrested 31-year-old Gregory Graham, of Marion, Va., without incident at his home on Brushy Mountain Road, according to Virginia State Police.

Graham is being held without bond at the New River Regional Jail. Graham was arrested on one count of malicious wounding. State police said more charges may be placed after consultation with the Grayson County Commonwealth’s Attorney.

Grayson County Sheriff Richard Vaughan said the incident was unusual and alarming.

“This day and time, nothing surprises me anymore, but that’s way out of the norm for the rural area of Grayson County to have that type of violent behavior," said Vaughan.

State Police said the attack happened around 8:30 on Sunday. About 20 people were inside Burton’s Chapel Missionary Baptist Church on Flatridge Road in Troutdale, when they heard banging on the front door.

An off-duty state trooper inside the church went to check it out.

“As he opened the door, he saw a man there with a hatchet and also had a dog,” said Vaughan, “As he tried to shut the door, the man came down with the hatchet and struck him in the hand.”

The trooper managed to shut the door and asked everyone to go into the basement for safety. The suspect, later determined to be Graham, and his dog went into nearby woods and when the trooper went back outside he heard the suspect yelling.

“This guy starts howling like a dog while up in the woods," said Vaughan.

Vaughan said, luckily, the church door was locked from the inside, the off-duty trooper only suffered minor injuries and no one else was hurt.

“It could have been a lot worse. It could have been life-threatening injuries with a hatchet like that," said Vaughan.

Vaughan said he’s relieved that a suspect is in custody and this incident should serve as a warning.

“Churches and congregations, church boards and pastors, they need to do their due diligence and make sure that they have a security plan in place just in case something like this happens at their church," said Vaughan.


State police are searching for the man who they say attacked an off-duty state trooper at a church on Sunday night.

At about 8:30 p.m., about 20 people were inside Burton’s Chapel Missionary Baptist Church at 11754 Flat Ridge Road in rural Grayson County when a banging was heard on the doors at the main entrance, according to police.

An off-duty Virginia State Police trooper opened the door to find a man and a dog just outside.

When the trooper asked if he could help and the man yelled back at him and the trooper noticed the man was holding a hatchet.

As the trooper attempted to close the door, police said the man swung the hatchet, scratching the back of the trooper’s hand, according to police.

Police said The trooper was able to close the door and direct the congregation to immediately go to the basement.

The man and his dog then left the property, at which time the trooper assisted everyone safely to their vehicles.

The off-duty trooper could hear the man yelling and howling from the woodline.

More state police responded to the scene to search for the man, who is described as being in a 5-foot, 10-inch, medium build man with long brown hair in his 30s.

At the time of the reported attack, he was wearing a backpack and was with a small, black, collie-mix dog. Police also believe he may be with a woman.

The trooper was treated at the scene for the crash and police said. no one else at the church was injured.

Anyone with information about this man is asked to call Virginia State Police by dialing #77, 276-228-3131 or by emailing questions@vsp.virginia.gov.

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