Armed man on roof overlooking Robert E. Lee statue, site of protests in Richmond, taken into custody

The 38-year-old man arrested and charged with trespassing in the incident works as a police officer for the Richmond International Airport, the city's police department said.
Image: People congregate around the base of the monument to Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Richmond
People congregate at the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Va., on June 18, 2020.Julia Rendleman / Reuters

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By Nicole Acevedo

An armed man who works as an airport police officer was on the roof of a building overlooking the Robert E. Lee monument in Richmond, Virginia, that has been the site of frequent protests.

The man, Riley O’Shaughnessey, a 38-year-old white male who works as an officer with the Richmond International Airport Police Department, was taken into custody Saturday morning, Richmond police said in a statement.

Police responded to a 911 call at around 6:30 a.m. to investigate a report of a person spotted "on the roof of an unoccupied building overlooking the Lee monument." Upon arrival, witnesses told police "they had seen the individual on the roof with a firearm," the statement said.

Police told the public in a tweet around 8 a.m. to "avoid the area" around the Lee monument.

"Officers are dealing with an armed individual in the 1800 block of Monument Avenue. For your safety please stay away," police tweeted.

As officers were preparing to enter the building, "an individual was spotted just outside the building." The person "was armed with a handgun," the police statement said.

At around 8:45 a.m., police took "the armed individual found there" into custody.

O’Shaughnessey was charged with trespassing, "a Class 1 misdemeanor which is a releasable summons."

"There is no weapons charge as it was being carried lawfully," the police statement said, adding that O’Shaughnessey "was not carrying any law enforcement identification" at the time of his arrest.

The statue of the Confederate general from Virginia has been an epicenter of protests in the city sparked by the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.

On Friday night, hundreds of people gathered around the monument where singer Trey Songz hosted a candlelight vigil to celebrate Juneteenth.

Hundreds stayed at the monument well after the peaceful event was over and about 100 people were there Saturday morning, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.