Police in Altavista, Virginia say they had no choice but to shoot an 83-year-old Christian grandmother because she would not drop her gun during a standoff.
Delma Towler, 83, grandmother and active participant in her local church was gunned down by police after she called 911. Records indicate that Towler called 911 and hung up the phone without making a report.
The call trigged an automatic dispatch of police to Towler's residence. Upon arriving police claim to have heard gunshots from inside the home. There was no indication that Towler was attempting to shoot at the police.
When law enforcement came to the front door, Towler ran out the back door apparently in fear that the police were actually criminals. At this time she was still armed.
Altavista Police Officers made several attempts to determine if anyone was inside Delma Towler's home and then heard shots fired from inside.
Officers took cover and watched her leave the house with a gun in her hand. They followed her as she walked up to another home.
They approached Towler, and commanded her repeatedly to put down her gun. Officers say she refused and pointed her weapon at them. She was then shot and died at the scene.
Allegedly shots were fired from inside the home, but forensic evidence has not been made public yet to confirm this. Towler's son, Robert Barbour, says that if his mother did discharge her weapon it would only have been to scare away an intruder. He says, "Mom ain't gonna hurt no police officer or nobody else. She was a good Christian woman and she wouldn't hurt a soul."
In analyzing the official statement by the VSP, their reasoning is curious. They claim Towler was walking up to another home, but that home was owned by her sister. Robert Barbour claims, "My aunt was holding the door open for her to come in and my aunt said she heard three shots like bang, bang, bang and she went down."
Police claim they commanded Towler to put down her weapon, and that she refused. They claim that she then pointed her weapon at the officers, and they had no choice but to open fire on the senior citizen to protect their own lives.
For this statement to be true several things also have to be true. The police's statement implies a conversation between Towler and officers in that backyard. For Towler to point the weapon at officers, this means it was not pointed at them when they demanded she drop the weapon.
Therefore the police claim they accosted an armed elderly Delma Towler, and after identifying themselves as police officers and telling her to drop her weapon she instead, while being surrounded, raised her weapon? This is the official rationale offered by police.