Although the informant’s information provided Officer Ingram with reasonable suspicion
to believe appellant possessed a firearm, nothing in the record provided reasonable suspicion for
the belief that this possession was illegal. “Absent some disqualifying status (being a felon,
juvenile, or drug possessor) or situs (being in a place where weapons are forbidden), it is not a
crime to possess a weapon.” Jackson v. Commonwealth, 41 Va. App. 211, 231, 583 S.E.2d 780,
790 (2003) (en banc), rev’d on other grounds, 267 Va. 666, 594 S.E.2d 595 (2004). Further,
nothing in the record indicated appellant was carrying the firearm in a legally proscribed manner,
such as in a concealed fashion without a permit. See Code § 18.2-308. The Commonwealth also
concedes that appellant’s attempts to sell the handgun were not illegal 2 and, thus, that
information about his sales efforts, standing alone, was insufficient to justify a Terry stop.
Absent reasonable, articulable suspicion for a detention, Officer Ingram’s only immediate
basis upon which to approach appellant was to attempt to engage him in a consensual encounter
in the hope of gaining additional information that might provide the requisite reasonable,
articulable suspicion for a detention or probable cause for an arrest. If Officer Ingram felt
attempting a consensual encounter was too dangerous under the circumstances, based on his
knowledge that appellant likely was armed, he could have avoided appellant altogether, waited
until additional officers had arrived, or conducted additional investigation in a way not involving
direct contact with appellant in an effort to obtain more definitive information regarding the
existence of an outstanding warrant.
Because Officer Ingram lacked reasonable, articulable suspicion to detain appellant, we
hold the trial court erred in denying appellant’s motion to suppress the firearm and
accompanying statements. Thus, we reverse appellant’s conviction and dismiss the indictment.
Reversed and dismissed.