An 84-year-old man fatally shot by police during a standoff ignored numerous pleas to surrender, Nicholas County Sheriff David L. Hopkins said.
Every tactic available was used to peacefully resolve Saturday’s standoff between John Evans and police, including tear gas, public address systems and even a West Virginia State Police bomb squad robot equipped with a loudspeaker. None succeeded, Hopkins said.
“He would never give a response to anything we did,” the sheriff told The Register-Herald. “He would never give a response to anything we did,” the sheriff said.
Evans shot and wounded two deputies with a shotgun during the standoff at his home in Craigsville. He also fired at a state police trooper who had gone to the rear of the residence and peeked in a window.
“He almost took his head off,” Hopkins said. “Just missed him.”
Evans exchanged gunfire with other officers and was fatally shot when he exited the back door and fired the shotgun again.
“We’re not patient enough to let him shoot at us without returning fire,” Hopkins said.
Evans also shot the robot after officers sent it onto his porch and used it to smash a window in an attempt to locate the man’s position.
“We kept telling him, ‘Put your gun down and come out of the house,’ but he never responds,” the sheriff said.
“We know he’s hard of hearing, but you’ve got this machine on the front porch. Surely, he can hear this.”
At one point during the standoff, Evans’ son tried unsuccessfully to contact him by cell phone.
“His dad never would answer the phone,” Hopkins said. “We tried for 15 or 20 minutes.”
The standoff began when Nicholas County sheriff’s Deputy Hansford “Buddy” Stapleton went to Evans’ residence in response to a 911 call from a neighbor who told police Evans had threatened him with a firearm over an unspecified dispute.
Hopkins said Evans was standing on the porch, cradling the shotgun, when Stapleton arrived. Evans went inside when the deputy directed him to surrender.
Stapleton then was shot in the leg as he crossed the yard. Later, after other officers arrived at the scene, sheriff’s Sgt. Richard “Tommy” Allison, was hit in the face and shoulder with shotgun pellets.
“He was bleeding pretty badly from the face,” Hopkins said about Allison. “I got my handkerchief and held it down on his face. We got him up and one of the deputies took him around and we put him in an ambulance.”
Both officers were taken to a Charleston hospital.