Officer lends helping hand

Posted: May 6, 2014

The Winchester Star

Officer Tommie Gardner

WINCHESTER — A corrections officer at the local jail has been recognized for helping defuse a domestic situation while on his way home from work.

When officer Tommie Gardner of the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center arrived home the night of April 24, he noticed a man a few houses down involved in a domestic argument, according to a release from the jail.

Gardner saw a crowd of people standing around a woman at the house in the 300 block of Virginia Avenue in the city. According to the release, she was using a phone to call 911.

The woman told Gardner that a man, later identified by police as Alonzo Nelson, 30, of Winchester, had a gun, the release states.

Gardner — who was unarmed — also reported seeing the outline of a weapon in Nelson’s back pocket.

He stayed behind his vehicle and instructed Nelson to put the gun down. After several commands, Nelson complied and laid the weapon on the trunk of the vehicle, according to the release.

Gardner — who was still in his jail uniform — detained the man until Winchester police arrived about 30 to 40 seconds later.

Regional Jail Superintendent James Whitley said it sounded like a “pretty nervous situation,” and commended Gardner for talking Nelson into giving up his gun despite not carrying his own weapon.

“He was able to defuse it before the police arrived,” he added.

Winchester Police Department spokeswoman Lauren Cummings confirmed the incident on Monday.

She said Nelson was charged with brandishing a firearm — which turned out to be an air pistol — and domestic assault.

— Contact Melissa Boughton at