In Warren County, Thighe Joseph Kavanagh, 54, of Washington, faced a felony charge for possession of a firearm as a convicted felon. On Feb. 16, the charge against him was dropped. 

The final disposition was nolle prosequi, meaning that prosecutors have formally abandoned all or part of an action or suit. In a criminal case such as this, nolle prosequi indicates that the charges cannot be proved or that evidence has demonstrated either innocence or a flaw in the prosecution’s claim. The charge can be brought back at a later date if sufficient evidence is discovered. 

The charge stemmed from a firearm purchase made on May 24, 2019 when Kavanagh and his father,Edmund Kavanagh, entered the Front Royal Rural King with the intention to purchase a gun. It was reported that while Thighe Kavanagh completed the gun purchase application, his father bought the firearm. According to Kavanagh’s Rappahannock County public defender David Walls (his Warren County defender is Alasen Schell) the video footage remains inconclusive because both Kavanagh and his father are largely off screen.

UnderVa. Code 18.2-308.2, Kavanagh’s prior felony convictions within the last ten years made the firearm purchase liable to prosecution. The convictions took place out of state, making the records unavailable. The Rappahannock News attempted to obtain details from the Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office but Capt. Jim Jones, who is familiar with the case, was unavailable for comment.  

The case in Warren County had been continued nine times before receiving the final disposition. In some of these instances, the court struggled to present all of the witnesses and the court reporter on the same day, while others were the result of the COVID-19 pandemic or scheduling issues.

The firearm in question was later allegedly discharged in the non-fatal shooting of a child outside of Washington on July 24, 2019. After Rappahannock County pressed charges against Kavanagh for the shooting, the firearm purchase and possible infraction committed by Kavanagh in Warren County came to light. He was arrested on the Rappahannock charges on Aug. 5 of 2019,with the Warren County charge emerging in January of 2020.  

Although the charge against Kavanagh was dropped in Warren, he is still subject to face charges in Rappahannock for his alleged involvement in the shooting. His jury trial has been set for Dec. 13-22, 2021 in Fauquier County, after Commonwealth’s Attorney Art Goff cited the difficulty of seating a jury in Rappahannock due to extensive press coverage.

Kavanagh faces eight different felony charges relating to the incident, including use or display of a firearm committing felony, aggravated malicious wounding and child abuse. Kavanagh remains in the Rappahannock Shenandoah Warren Regional Jail as he awaits trial.

Sign up for the C-19 Daily Update, a free newsletter delivered to your email inbox every morning.