All charges have been dropped against a Fort Stewart soldier arrested Dec. 30 in Newport News, Va.
Miguel Antonio Childress said he was charged with one count each of shooting a firearm in a public place, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony and shooting a firearm within 1,000 feet of a school, plus two counts of attempt to commit a felony.
Childress said he spent six days in jail before he was released on $10,000 bond.
“The judge apologized for me being in jail and having to spend money to hire a lawyer,” he said. “He said it was too bad no one asked my side of the story from the beginning.”
Newport News Police Department Public Information Officer Lou Thurston said he cannot discuss the case with media as this would be a case of criminal history and a violation of Virginia State Code 19.2-389.
According to a Jan. 2 news release by WAVY-TV, on Dec. 29, Childress approached a 36-year-old Suffolk, Va., man who was sitting in a vehicle. The report said Childress believed the man was responsible for a separate incident in which one of Childress’ relatives was assaulted. When the man tried to drive away, Childress allegedly fired at the man’s vehicle.
Childress, who is a sergeant first class with a 3rd Infantry Division, said the man recognized him when he got out of his car. As he approached him, he said the man tried to run over him with his vehicle. Childress said he jumped out of the way, but the man backed up and tried to run over him again. That’s when he fired a shot at the vehicle. The man then fled the scene, he said. Childress said he stopped a Newport News police officer’s patrol car and reported the incident then went to the hospital where his wife was waiting with her sister, the assault victim.
As Childress was putting his pistol in the trunk of his car, another officer approached. He showed the officer his conceal-carry permit for the gun and related the earlier incident. He said the officer took the pistol but said he’d be allowed to get it back later.
Childress’ wife, Sgt. 1st Class Candace Childress, said that the next day was Sunday.
“The police department called my husband and asked him to come down to the station,” she said. “He asked if he had to come right then or if he could attend church with my family. They told him, ‘By all means, go on to church then come by the station.’ When we got there, they read the charges and kept him.”
She said on March 6, the judge had her husband, the other man and a witnesses before him for the preliminary hearing. After talking with her husband then the other man, she said the judge dismissed all charges against her husband.
Childress said now that all the charges have been dropped, he is supposed to get back his pistol, but he has to return to Newport News to get it. He said they have not gotten back the $2,000 they posted as part of his bond or the money he spent to hire a lawyer. And even though the Army has not charged him with any “bad time” for the six days he spent in jail, he said the ordeal has been hard on his family and his church family.
Childress said he couldn’t talk about the case against the other man.
“I just want to thank everyone for their support during the most difficult time of my life,” said Childress, who expressed gratitude for his pastor at Baconton Missionary Baptist Church. “I want to thank Pastor (Hermon) Scott and everybody for their prayers.”
He said he and his family were in Virginia on military leave, spending time with his wife’s family during the New Year’s Eve weekend. They were preparing to return to Hinesville after New Year’s Day.
“I’ve been a big part of this community and this church for 17 years,” Childress said. “This has affected me, my family and my church. But I see now where this was my test of my testimony.”
Scott agreed. He told the Coastal Courier on Tuesday that Childress’ burden has been a test of faith for the entire church.
“There’s a proverb that says every man’s story seems right until it’s tried by another,” said Scott, paraphrasing Proverbs 18:17. “I wanted to believe Miguel, but I also wanted to hear both sides of the story. I was praying for him. Since (the Childress’) have been here, they’ve really been a special couple.”