ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — A man will spend at least two decades in prison after pointing a gun at deputies during an hours-long standoff in 2020.
Rockingham County Sheriff Sam Page and District Attorney Jason Ramey announced at a press conference on Friday that Joseph Lynwood Irving, 40, of Ruffin, was found guilty of three counts of assault with a firearm on a law enforcement officer, three counts of communicating a threat of mass violence on educational properly, three counts of making a false report concerning a destructive device on any building, one count of making a false report concerning a destructive device on a public building, two counts of threats against court officers and three counts of a threatening phone call.
He was sentenced to a minimum of 21 years and six months for these charges with supervised probation for 18 months after release.
A “disturbing” 911 hang-up call that threatened the lives of “several elected officials” in Rockingham County led deputies to a home on Doedara Lane in Ruffin early in the morning on March 11, 2020.
When a lieutenant tried to make contact with Irving, a shotgun was pointed at him. Deputies called for backup and what would become a nine-hour standoff began, in which he pointed the gun at several more officials on the scene.
Alamance County Sheriff’s Office brought in an armored vehicle to assist Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office.
During the standoff, Irving called bomb threats into all of the high schools in the county, along with several businesses in the area. All 22 Rockingham County Schools went into lockdown, but no bombs were located. “However, the response that was required created an enormous strain on the county’s resources,” the release said.
Irving was arrested without incident and no one was hurt.
“For years, Joseph Lynwood Irving waged an unceasing campaign of harassment against local government officials to gratify his thirst for attention,” District Attorney Ramey said. “His obsession with our former elected Rockingham County Clerk of Superior Court, the Honorable Mark Pegram, culminated in Irving unleashing mass chaos on March 11, 2020.”
Ramey thanked the multiple agencies that responded to assist, as well as the deputies of the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office that were on the scene that day.
During the press conference, Page said that in his years in law enforcement, he had “never seen such a situation that happened all on one day.”
He then went on to caution people against swatting, cyber-stalking and making threats, stating that these types of cases will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Just last week, neighbors in Rockingham County were forced out of their homes for hours due to a swatting call.