Shooting death grips Lakeside

Published 9:53 pm Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Two police officers are on paid administrative leave after a police-involved shooting on Monday resulted in the death of a 28-year-old man.

Corey Jason Achstein, of the 200 block of Causey Avenue, died at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital Monday night, city spokesman Tim Kelley said in a press release. Achstein was shot one time by an officer responding to reports of an armed man chasing three juveniles down Causey Avenue with a gun around 5:15 p.m., Kelley said.

Achstein (Twitter photo)

Achstein (Twitter photo)

Officer James Babor fired the deadly shot, Kelley said. He arrived about six minutes after the initial call.

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He and Officer Cheryl Abrigo had spotted Achstein holding a firearm near the intersection of Causey and Virginia avenues on Monday and ordered him to drop to the ground. Babor fired his weapon because of “the suspect’s actions and concern for safety,” according to the press release.

A weapon recovered near Achstein’s body turned out to be a “realistic style pneumatic BB gun,” according to Kelley.

‘Totally out of control’

Longtime Causey Avenue resident Candy Holland made the initial call to police dispatchers Monday evening after seeing Achstein — although she did not know his identity at the time — walking in the middle of the street, repeatedly threatening and yelling profanities at three teenagers walking ahead of him.

“He was beyond angry, totally out of control,” said Holland. She called police after she heard him shout several threats, including “Do you want a piece of me?” and “I’m going to kill you,” directed at the teenagers several times.

The teens — two boys and a girl — yelled back, appearing to egg him on from a distance, she added.

“I saw him raise a revolver and point it down the street at them,” Holland said.

Although she didn’t see Achstein point his weapon at the officer, Holland said, she heard police order him to drop to the ground.

“Then, I heard him yelling at the police officer,” Holland said. Moments later, she heard a single shot fired and saw Achstein fall to the ground, she added.

Two neighbors, Sue Jones and Quentin Kigler, were inside their homes and didn’t hear the exchanges between Achstein and the teenagers or police. It was the gunshot that got their attention.

“I heard the pop and at first, I thought it was a car that backfired,” Jones said. But when she looked outside, she saw an officer cutting across a neighbor’s backyard and Achstein’s body lying in the street.

‘A real shock’

Wiping away an occasional tear as they talked to a reporter on Causey Avenue, about a block from the home of Achstein’s mother, Bill and Tom Walker, his uncles, said the family wants answers. Thus far, police have not been forthcoming with information to the family, they said.

Achstein, an apprentice at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, had been on medical leave after injuring his knee at work. He had recently had one surgery and was scheduled to have another before returning to work, said Tom Walker.

Walker said the family is close-knit, visits often and communicates daily. The entire family — including Achstein — was together on Christmas Day. Achstein’s second-story apartment is directly across the street from his mother’s Lakeside home.

“This is a real shock for us,” said Bill Walker. “He’s never been a violent or confrontational person, and he’s never held a grudge. If he got mad at a friend, he would be over it two days later.”

The picture of Achstein’s actions they have pieced together from media reports and police are out of character for their nephew, Bill Walker said.

Both men said they don’t recall Achstein ever showing an interest in guns.

“Never,” Bill Walker said. “I didn’t think he would even know how to load a firearm, much less pull the trigger. Where did he even get a firearm?”

“Right now, my sister just needs answers,” Tom Walker said. “Her son is dead, and she can’t get the answers from the Suffolk Police Department. She deserves to know why her son was shot and killed.”

Achstein’s mother is not speaking to the media, Tom Walker added.

Details withheld

Babor, who has been with the Suffolk Police Department for eight years, and Abrigo, a veteran police officer with 12 years experience who also responded to the scene, are both on paid administrative leave pending criminal and internal affairs investigations, Kelley said. That is the department’s standard protocol in officer-involved shootings.

Babor was also one of two police officers involved in the city’s last fatal officer-involved shooting, in March 2010. The commonwealth’s attorney found no evidence of wrongdoing by police in the death of 49-year-old Tedlee Hargrove, who police said was wielding a shotgun from his Central Avenue balcony when he was shot.

Both Babor and Abrigo were wearing body cameras during Monday’s incident, but the video is being withheld because it is part of an active investigation, Kelley said. Once the Suffolk Police Department completes its investigations, all information will be turned over to Commonwealth’s Attorney C. Phillips Ferguson for review, Kelley said.

Police are also withholding many other details related to the incident. Kelley said the active investigation precluded him sharing a photo of the gun, disclosing whether the officers were carrying Tasers, describing the initial confrontation between them and Achstein or revealing exactly the action he took that caused Babor to feel threatened enough to shoot him.

Also, two search warrants filed by police in Suffolk Circuit Court related to the case have been sealed, according to Circuit Court Clerk Randy Carter.