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May 30, 2018

Emergency alert system leads to burglary suspect

Sheriff’s deputies arrested Joseph John Kowalewski, 35, of Winchester, on Monday.
The county’s emergency alert system and an informed citizen this week helped Fauquier sheriff’s deputies capture a convicted felon who allegedly stole a gun from a home near Orlean.

Sheriff’s deputies on Sunday, May 27, investigated a report of a gun stolen from a home on Conde Road, according to Sgt. James Hartman. They obtained warrants charging Joseph John Kowalewski, 35, of Winchester, with grand larceny and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

At about 8 a.m. the next day, deputies returned to the home after a caller reported the homeowner had found Mr. Kowalewski in a barn on the property and held him at gunpoint, Sgt. Hartman said.

“During the confrontation, Kowalewski fled from the scene prior to the arrival of deputies,” the sergeant added. “Due to the severity of these charges, several sheriff’s deputies, with the aid of officers from the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and a Virginia State Police K-9 team, began an extensive search in the area between Conde Road and John Barton Payne Road.

“An Everbridge message was broadcast to the immediate area to alert citizens. A short time later, a citizen acting on the information contained within the message, contacted the sheriff’s office, advising Kowalewski had been seen off of John Barton Payne Road.”

Deputies responded and took Mr. Kowalewski into custody.

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Sheriff's Office · May 31, 2018 at 1:38 pm
The alert was sent to citizens using the best information available at the time. Deputies confirmed with at least two (2) witnesses that this suspect was NOT armed at the time he fled so the message stated in part "we do not believe that he is armed at this time." This system worked flawlessly in this event and we commend the citizen who reacted properly to the alert and notified law enforcement.
Paul Conlin · May 30, 2018 at 2:48 pm
It is great that the emergency alert text system helped locate this person. However, the text alert I received clearly and specifically said the subject was NOT believed to be armed and that there is no immediate danger. Yet the sequence of events in this news story says the theft of a firearm was used to issue a warrant for "possession of a firearm by a convicted felon" and someone was held a gun point, both prior to the alert! So either there was a very serious breakdown in communication between the Authorities involved or a deliberate effort was made to hide the truth. This put those living in the area in danger. If the Authorities want to leverage this technology to get help from its citizens they must be honest with us. Once lost, trust is difficult to restore. Should we believe the next text alert we get?
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