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Police Arrest and Charge Armed Man with Trespassing on Roof Near Lee Statue

officers around building
SLIDESHOW: Richmond Police officers surrounded a building overlooking the Lee statue Saturday morning after reports of an armed individual on the roof. (Coleman Jennings / VPM)

Richmond Police arrested and charged a 38-year-old man with trespassing, after he was seen on top of an empty building overlooking the statue to Confederate General Robert E. Lee Saturday morning. The individual was armed. 

One witness, who only wanted to share their first name, was camping overnight near the Lee statue. They noticed a man on the roof around dawn.

“Just observing. And he was just sitting there. Then once people kind of noticed him they started calling him out. Once that happened, he kind of retreated around the back of the building,” Clara told VPM News.  

According to a press release, officers were on scene around 6:30 a.m. As they were preparing to enter the building, the man was spotted just outside and was taken into custody. He was later identified as Riley O’Shaughnessey, of Richmond. Police say he is employed as an officer with the Richmond International Airport Police Department, but was not carrying any law enforcement identification at the time of the arrest. 

O’Shaughnessey was charged with trespassing, a Class 1 misdemeanor which police say is a “releasable summons.” Police say there was no weapons charge, because the handgun “was being carried lawfully.”

This comes after a night of Juneteenth celebrations around the monument, which has been transformed with graffiti during weeks of protests. It’s now become a focal point for community events. 

This week a judge extended an injunction -- putting on hold the governor’s plan to remove the Confederate memorial. 

VPM's team also noticed that the Monument to the First Regiment of the Virginia Infantry, located at Meadow Park in the Fan neighborhood, was pulled down overnight Friday. This is a few blocks away from the Lee statue. The memorial is for a state militia regiment that formed before the Revolutionary War.

Protesters have take down around five statues in the city over the past few weeks, including ones dedicated to Christopher Columbus and Jefferson Davis.  

VPM's Coleman Jennings and Steve Humble contributed to this reporting.