Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

July 9, 2012

Cruiser theft ends in fatality

BLUEFIELD — A traffic stop on Bluefield Avenue late Saturday night led to a police vehicular and foot pursuit in which the suspect took a handgun from a pursuing officer and was fatally shot by a West Virginia State Trooper when he refused to surrendered the officer’s handgun.

On Sunday morning, the suspect’s body was taken to the West Virginia State Medical examiner’s Office in Charleston where a medical examiner was going to take  his fingerprints with the hope of making a positive identification, according to Scott Ash, Mercer County prosecuting attorney.

“There were four other people in the car that the Bluefield patrolman stopped,” Ash said. “The suspect was arrested, handcuffed and placed in the back seat of the patrolman’s cruiser. Somehow, he managed to get his hands from behind him to in front of him, climbed out of the back seat into the front seat and took off in the cruiser,” Ash said.

“Another patrolman was at the traffic stop, and immediately initiated a pursuit,” John McGinnis, assistant Mercer County prosecuting attorney said. “He put out a broadcast, and all other available units in the county started putting out spike strips to stop the suspect. The suspect apparently spotted the state trooper in the eastbound lanes of Route 460 and attempted to lock up his brakes to make the turn into Country Girl Road.

“At that point, the patrolman in pursuit struck the rear of the fleeing vehicle, knocking it into a ditch,” McGinnis said. “At that point, the suspect got out and tried to escape on foot with the Bluefield patrolman and the state trooper in pursuit.” McGinnis was returning from a concert in Fairlea and happened upon the law enforcement convergence on the fleeing suspect.

According to a press release from the West Virginia State Police: “During a struggle to apprehend the suspect, he was able to gain control of one of the officer’s handgun. The suspect refused to relinquish control of the handgun and was fatally shot by the state trooper,” according to the press release issued by First Sgt. Michael Baylous of the West Virginia State Police. “Further information will be available for release once the deceased has been identified and the next of kin has been notified.”

McGinnis said that police questioned the other witnesses who were in the suspect vehicle. State Police did not immediately return voice mail messages seeking additional comment.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com

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