WALLBACK, W.Va. (AP) — The man who killed a West Virginia state trooper and wounded another while being arrested slipped out of his handcuffs and shot the officers with a handgun he had hidden on his body, West Virginia State Police Superintendent Col. Jay Smithers said Wednesday.
Luke Baber, 20, of Oak Hill also shot and wounded a tow truck driver and a Roane County sheriff's deputy before he was fatally shot during an exchange of gunfire with other officers.
"The days ahead will be difficult. We appreciate your continued support," Smithers said at an afternoon news conference at the state police headquarters in South Charleston.
State police Cpl. Marshall Lee Bailey and Trooper Eric Workman pulled over a pickup truck Baber was driving at the Wallback park-and-ride off Interstate 79 around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Smithers said. The troopers were responding to a report from Nicholas County dispatchers of a truck traveling erratically on the interstate. They determined that the driver was intoxicated and arrested him.
Smithers said the truck had been stolen in Oak Hill. Investigators believe Baber was going to Morgantown, where his sister is a student at West Virginia University.
Smithers said the troopers searched Bailey before handcuffing him and putting him in the back seat of their cruiser but they did not discover the 9mm handgun he had hidden. His hands were cuffed in front of him.
"They just missed it," he said.
Police have not determined where the gun was hidden but it likely was in the groin area, Smithers said.
Bailey died at the scene. Workman was in a coma and in critical condition Wednesday at a Charleston hospital, Smithers said.
The troopers were shot while waiting for a tow truck to arrive to retrieve the pickup truck. When the tow truck arrived, Baber shot the driver, William Massey, in the arm and fled on foot. Massey called for help and dozens of law enforcement officers from several agencies converged on the small asphalt parking lot and began searching for Baber, who had taken Marshall's gun.