The man in the black hoodie told a mother through the door that he needed help, that he had been hitchhiking for 30 miles. But in truth, deputies say, Troy George Skinner had traveled much farther than that.
Sheriff James Agnew of Goochland County, Va., said Monday that the 25-year-old, from New Zealand, had traveled across the world preparing to knock on this family’s door. He took three planes from New Zealand to Washington on June 20. Then, the next day, he boarded a Greyhound bus headed for Richmond, toward the home of a 14-year-old girl he had met on the Internet.
“This was not random,” Agnew said at a news conference. “This was not spontaneous. This was something very planned.”
Before he arrived at her doorstep in Goochland in the middle of the afternoon Friday, Agnew said Skinner stopped at a Walmart to purchase a pocketknife. In his pants pocket he also had pepper spray, and in his backpack duct tape, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. About 2:30 p.m., Agnew said, a resident reported seeing the man in black trudging along Steeplechase Parkway in the neighborhood of Holland Hills.
The mother, whom the sheriff’s office did not identify, was at home painting with her two teenage daughters. Her 14-year-old had met Skinner three or four months earlier on a text-and-voice-chat app for video gamers called Discord, Agnew said.
She had been trying to end communication with him, he said. But Skinner persisted.
“He was not invited here,” Agnew said. “He was not expected here.”
When the mother refused to answer the door for the self-described hitchhiker, the sheriff’s office said Skinner attempted to break down the rear basement door with a concrete landscaping stone. The mother, yelling from the inside, warned him that she was armed with a handgun. But Skinner persisted.
Unable to break down the door, the sheriff said Skinner then went up the steps to the deck and broke a glass door using the stone. By then the mother had loaded her .22-caliber handgun and warned Skinner again that she was armed. But still Skinner persisted, the sheriff’s office said, and having smashed through the door with the stone, he reached inside to unlatch it.
That’s when the mother shot at him twice, striking him once in the neck, the sheriff’s office said.
He allegedly tried to run away but instead collapsed in the front yard of the house next door, where deputies would soon find him lying on the ground bleeding.
Skinner was transported via MedFlight to a hospital in critical condition. Agnew said Monday that he is expected to survive.
He is also expected to be charged with breaking and entering with a deadly weapon, with intent to commit a serious felony, Agnew said. He has referred the case to the FBI to determine whether any federal charges are warranted. It was not immediately clear whether he had an attorney.
Agnew did not speculate about what he believed Skinner would have done had he gotten inside, the Associated Press reported.
“All I can say is the manner in which he attempted to enter that home,” he said, “in the face of a firearm pointed at him and the implements we recovered from him — the only inference is that he had very bad intent.”
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