Imagine you’re home alone.
It’s 8 p.m. You work an early shift and need to be out the door before sunrise, so you’re already in bed. Your nerves are a bit frazzled, because earlier in the week someone broke into your home. Oddly, they didn’t take anything; they just rifled through your belongings.
But the violation weighs on your mind. At about the time you drift off, you’re awakened by fierce barking from your two large dogs. You hear someone crashing into your front door, as if he’s trying to separate it from its hinges. You grab the gun you keep for home defense and leave your room to investigate.
This past January that scenario played out at the Chesapeake, Virginia, home of 28-year-old Ryan Frederick, a slight man of little more than 100 pounds. According to interviews since the incident, Frederick says when he looked toward his front door, he saw an intruder trying to enter through one of the lower door panels. So Frederick fired his gun.
The intruders were from the Chesapeake Police Department. They had come to serve a drug warrant. Frederick’s bullet struck Detective Jarrod Shivers in the side, killing him. Frederick was arrested and has spent the last six weeks in a Chesapeake jail.
He has been charged with first degree murder. Paul Ebert, the special prosecutor assigned to the case, has indicated he may elevate the charge to capital murder, which would enable the state to seek the death penalty.
At the time of the raid, Ryan Frederick worked for a soft drink merchandiser. Current and former employers and co-workers speak highly of him. He also recently had gotten engaged, a welcome lift for a guy who’d had a run of tough luck.
He lost both parents early in life, and friends say the death of his mother hit particularly hard—Frederick discovered her in bed after she had overdosed on prescription medication. After the deaths of both parents, Frederick grew close to his grandmother, who then died two years ago.