Commonwealth v. John Anthony Lewis; Commonwealth v. Rory Duke Diggs; Judge Imposes 40-Year Prison Sentence for Men who Shot at Trooper, Robbed Bank

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Colin D. Stolle, Commonwealth's Attorney for the city of Virginia Beach, announced today that John Anthony Lewis, 43 years old, formerly of the 5200 block of Breezewood Arch in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Rory Duke Diggs, 44 years old, formerly of the 4500 block of Genoa Circle in Virginia Beach, Virginia, were sentenced by Circuit Court Judge Steven C. Frucci for charges of Capital Murder of a Law Enforcement Officer (Attempt) and three (3) counts each of Robbery and Use of a Firearm.  Judge Frucci sentenced each defendant to 63 years in prison with 23 years suspended, leaving 40 years to serve. This is more than twice the high-end of the Virginia State Sentencing Guidelines, which recommended a sentence of no more than 19 years and 11 months in prison. 

Lewis and Diggs pled guilty on October 21, 2015.  Had this matter gone to trial, the Commonwealth's evidence would have proven that on December 5, 2014 at approximately 9:54 a.m., Lewis and Diggs entered the Wells Fargo located at 2125 General Booth Boulevard in the city of Virginia Beach. Both displayed firearms and wore body armor, masks, hats, dark clothing and gloves. One defendant went behind the teller counter and ordered everyone to the ground, while the other defendant patrolled the lobby area. The gunman behind the counter then ordered a teller to unlock the three cash drawers, and he took a total of $34,391. While the first gunman was taking the cash, the second gunman kept watch in the lobby.  A customer in a military uniform entered the bank during the robbery, and the second gunman ordered him to stand against a wall. When the second gunman yelled, "Let's go", the first gunman left the area behind the counter and said, "Have a nice day". Eyewitnesses saw the gunmen flee in a black Chevrolet Blazer with license plate number XBL-6165, and they called 911 to relay this information.

Lewis was driving and Diggs was in the passenger seat as they drove into an adjoining neighborhood, where they had stashed their getaway cars. The Blazer was stolen, as was a red Ford Explorer they had left nearby. They drove toward the red Explorer in order to exchange cars; and the plan was to drive the Explorer to their own personal cars which were also stashed nearby.

Meanwhile, a citizen alerted Sergeant J. Pew with the Virginia State Police to the red Ford Explorer as a possible abandoned vehicle. Sergeant Pew was wearing his police uniform and trooper hat and was operating an unmarked police vehicle. Sergeant Pew ran the tags on the Explorer, and determined that the car had been reported stolen. He was in the process of calling in the stolen car when Lewis and Diggs arrived nearby. Sergeant Pew was unaware that a bank robbery had just occurred. He saw the Blazer slam on its brakes and squeal its tires as it reversed into the neighborhood. Sergeant Pew figured that the suspicious behavior of those in the Blazer was related to the stolen Explorer, so he gave chase. He followed the Blazer in his police vehicle with emergency equipment activated, chasing the Blazer onto a dead end street nearby.

Lewis stopped the Blazer, and Diggs exited the passenger side. Sergeant Pew stopped his police vehicle directly facing the Blazer as he saw the passenger door open, thinking the passenger was about to flee. Instead, Diggs advanced on Sergeant Pew and fired multiple shots at him. Lewis also began shooting at Sergeant Pew from the open window of the driver's side of the Blazer. Sergeant Pew returned fire, ultimately attempting to get a rifle from the backseat of his car, but could not reach it as he continued to be under fire from Lewis and Diggs. Lewis began driving the Blazer toward Sergeant Pew as Sergeant Pew was seeking protection at the rear of his vehicle. Lewis continued to fire until he fled in the Blazer and Diggs fled on foot. Sergeant Pew suffered a knee injury, strain injuries, and a bullet graze injury to his head.

Multiple residents in the neighborhood heard the shooting and called police. Lewis was able to switch cars and escape. Having been identified as a suspect, Lewis was under surveillance by police that night and was arrested as he drove by Diggs' home. Diggs fled into the neighborhood on foot but was spotted by Virginia Beach police officers. After a short foot pursuit, Diggs was arrested less than a hundred feet from where his personal vehicle was parked. Diggs was wearing a bulletproof vest and a backpack and had his car keys in his hand when he was captured. In his backpack was the $34,901 in cash stolen from Wells Fargo as well as the gun he used to try to kill Sergeant Pew.

Diggs' driver's license was located in the center console of his vehicle. Lewis' driver's license and cell phone were located in the glove compartment.  Cell phone records obtained by police tied Lewis and Diggs, who had been friends since high school, to the area of the bank robbery. Police discovered text messages between the two men planning the robbery.

Commonwealth's Attorney Colin D. Stolle and Assistant Commonwealths Attorneys Wendy Alexander and Brian M. Latuga prosecuted this case. Please contact Macie Allen if additional information is desired.