Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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September 25, 2012

Police: NS conductor shot himself

GRUNDY, Va. — A Norfolk Southern locomotive conductor, who reported an unknown assailant had shot him, may now be facing charges in Buchanan County.

Charges of giving false information to a police officer during a criminal investigation are pending against Mark D. Jarrell, 41, of Canada, Ky., after he claimed he was shot on Sept. 20 by an unknown assailant in the Weller Yard near Hurley, Va.

Sheriff Ray Foster said Jarrell later admitted to investigators the gunshot wound was accidentally self-inflicted.

“He talked to our investigators after he was released from the hospital,” Foster said. “We had evidence and when this evidence was presented to him he admitted the gunshot was self-inflicted. He did not say why he originally claimed someone else had shot him.”

According to Foster, Jarrell did not indicate why he had shot himself. Foster said the investigation into the shooting continues.

“There are other charges that may be pending as well,” Foster said. “We will be consulting with the Commonwealth’s Attorney. A lot depends on the results of the investigation.”

Foster said officers had prepared for the worst when they were dispatched to the shooting scene. He said a similar shooting incident in March 2011 cost the lives of two Buchanan County deputies and severely injured two others.

“The last time we received reports of shots fired from an unknown assailant was last year, and we lost two very good men,” Foster said. “Our officers were not sure if they were going into something like that again. People do not realize the seriousness of these situations sometimes.”

Foster said he would like to thank the community for their support and patience during the investigation.

Robin Chapman, a spokesperson with Norfolk Southern, said the company was cooperating with law enforcement and any charges would come from the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office not the Norfolk Southern Police.

“We will be doing an investigation in conjunction with the sheriff’s department,” Chapman said. “We are doing whatever we can to cooperate with law enforcement. Mr. Jarrell is still presently employed with Norfolk Southern. I cannot speak to any disciplinary action as that is a private matter between the company and Mr. Jarrell.”

According to Foster, Jarrell was taken to Holston Valley Medical Center in Kingsport, Tenn., where he was treated and released for his injuries.

A Norfolk Southern spokesperson previously told the Daily Telegraph Jarrell was finishing separating three locomotives from a train when the shooting occurred.

The Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Response team conducted a sweep of the area but was unable to locate any assailant immediately after Jarrell was transported to the hospital. The Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office, Virginia State Police, and members of the Norfolk Southern Police continued searching the area for the gunman throughout the night.

The Hurley High School and the Hurley Elementary-Middle School Complex were closed the following day as a precautionary measure.

— Contact Kate Coil at

kcoil@bdtonline.com

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