A substitute teacher and a former teacher for Raleigh County Schools died Friday in Nicholas County in an apparent murder-suicide, after shooting to death a Webster County physician, Nicholas County authorities reported.
According to Nicholas County Sheriff’s Department, Vonly York, 68, of Shady Spring shot Dr. Luke McElwain to death on Friday during a child exchange at the Craigsville Go-Mart.
When deputies arrived, officials said, York allegedly turned the gun on himself.
The incident was under investigation Saturday by Sgt. B.J. Holdren.
Nicholas officials report that deputies had randomly pulled into the Go-Mart in time to see York shoot McElwain, who was the father of his grandchildren, with a .38 revolver, police said.
Police had ordered him to drop the weapon. The official said York was holding a cell phone in one hand and a gun in the other and that he allegedly raised the pistol and shot himself.
It was unclear whether York and McElwain had argued prior to the shooting, the official said.
McElwain was a physician in Webster County, police said. He was the father of six children. The official said it appeared that at least a few of the children were present during the shooting.
Raleigh County students and others mourned Saturday as they remembered “Coach York” as a man who had many adventures and told students his stories.
York taught at the former Stratton Junior High School on South Fayette Street during his career, Councilman-at-Large Tim Berry recalled.
Lisa Shrewsberry of Daniels, a teacher and a former editor of West Virginia South magazine, said York was “one of the great ones” as a teacher and that he was a good storyteller.
“From my daughter’s standpoint, she really enjoyed when he substituted,” she said. “I’m sure kids all over Raleigh County felt the same way.
“He’d tell his stories, and after he told them, they’d repeat him.
“He never ceased to hold their attention when he would tell of his adventures and traveling,” she added. “They loved him. They loved it when Coach York would substitute.
“He really was one of the great ones. He was one of the great teachers that everybody remembered.”
Students at Park Middle School, where York substituted regularly, reacted in shock Saturday and shared their memories of York, who was also a contributing writer to West Virginia South magazine.
“I liked him, and he was real funny and a nice guy,” Leanne Wootten, 12, now of Oak Hill, said. “My favorite memory is when he was subbing for (Sherri Shumate) and was talking about how old he was and how he had to fight dinosaurs on his way to school when he was young.”
A’Joenae Norris, 12, of Beckley, also remembered York as a storyteller.
“My favorite memory of him is when I was in class last year and he was telling us funny stories and how he traveled around the world.”
Jenna Reeves, 12, agreed that she enjoyed stories York told of his travels.
She added that York was “funny, positive, just a great man, in general.”
York’s son, Vaughn, had died in an automobile accident in 2006. On Saturday, York’s son William asked the community on social media to keep the York family in their prayers.
— Gabriela Farrish contributed to this story