SUFFOLK -- The arson suspect whose standoff with Virginia State Police led to a lockdown at nearby schools, initially escaped from authorities, according to family.
Speaking anonymously to 13News Now, a family member of Gary Abernathy, 52, says the suspect ran from authorities after officers attempted to taze him at his home on William Reid Drive, across from Elephant’s Fork Elementary School.
"He was locked up in the house, he got out of the house, threatened somebody to kill somebody and stole their van,” said the family member.
Wayne New says he heard strange noises coming from outside his home on Lake Drive.
When he opened the backdoor, New says Abernathy pushed his way in.
"He said the cops have been chasing me and I want to get out of here,” recalled New. “He said what do you got to drive."
New says he gave Abernathy the keys to his 1993 Dodge van.
But before he left, New says Abernathy threatened him and his wife.
"He said if the keys don't fit the van, he said I'm coming in here if I have to bust the door down and I'm going to kill both of y'all,” New said.
New’s van was found at Abernathy’s home, where the daylong standoff with police ended with him killing himself, according to Virginia State Police.
State police have not confirmed the carjacking or the threat, citing the ongoing criminal investigation into the incident.