State trooper killed, another wounded in Roane shootings
For a story about slain State Police trooper Marshall Bailey, click here.
WALLBACK, W.Va. -- A State Police trooper was killed, another trooper was in critical condition and two other people were shot in an incident Tuesday night at the Wallback park and ride off Interstate 79 in Roane County.
The shooter -- Luke Baber, 22, of Oak Hill -- was shot and killed shortly afterward by sheriff's deputies.
Cpl. Marshall Lee Bailey, a resident of Poca, was killed in the incident. Trooper Eric Workman was critically wounded. He is in a coma and is on life support, State Police Cpl. J.R. Smithers said at a news conference this afternoon.
In addition to the two troopers, a Roane County sheriff's deputy and the driver of a wrecker truck were also shot.
Police had received reports of a white Chevrolet Silverado driving erratically on Tuesday evening. The report came from Nicholas County, Smithers said, but authorities in Clay and Roane counties were also notified.
At about 8 p.m. Tuesday, Bailey and Workman stopped Baber's vehicle at the park and ride near the Wallback exit. Baber was handcuffed by the troopers, and they called a tow truck to take away his vehicle, Smithers said.
Before the tow truck arrived, Baber managed to pull a concealed gun from somewhere and shoot both Bailey and Workman, Smithers said.
Bailey died at the scene. Workman remained in critical condition this afternoon, according to a nursing supervisor at CAMC General Hospital.
Once the tow truck driver, William "Frank" Massey, arrived, Baber shot him as well, Smithers said. Baber then fled the scene on foot.
Sheriff's deputies from Roane and Clay counties found Baber, who engaged them in a shootout, Smithers said. Baber was killed, and Roane County Sheriff's Deputy John Westfall was wounded.
All of the wounded were taken to CAMC General. Massey was treated and released. Westfall remained there this afternoon after surgery, Smithers said.
Roane County Sheriff Mike Harper said Westfall, who has been with the department about six months, also works part-time for the Spencer Police Department.
"He's going to be fine," Harper said of Westfall. "He took one [bullet] in the abdomen, but he had his vest on, which I believe saved his life."
The sheriff said Westfall's body armor kept the bullet from doing serious damage. Westfall was also shot in the arm and hand, Harper said.
Smithers said Baber was shot multiple times, and it wasn't clear which deputy or deputies shot him.
In December 2009, Baber was arrested by Fayette County sheriff's deputies after he threatened his parents with what turned out to be a BB gun. During that incident, Baber told deputies he pulled the gun in an attempt to get officers to kill him, according to a criminal complaint filed in Fayette County Magistrate Court.
According to the complaint, Baber's mother called 911 and said her son was threatening both of his parents. When deputies arrived, they found Baber being restrained by his father on the floor, with the BB gun under him.
Baber would not cooperate with deputies and refused to let them put handcuffs on him, resulting in a struggle, according to the complaint.
Once Baber was in custody, he "stated he pulled the gun (which was determined to be a BB pistol) in [an] attempt to get law enforcement to kill him," Deputy D.S. Wysong wrote in the complaint.
Deputies also a metal bottle with three pills attached to Baber's belt loop. Baber admitted the pills were the prescription drug Xanax, and that he didn't have a prescription for the pills, according to the complaint.
State Police spokesman Sgt. Michael Baylous said fellow state troopers are taking the shootings hard.
"We're a small department, everybody knows everybody," Baylous said on the MetroNews "Talkline" program. "Law enforcement is like a band of brothers."
After the original shooting, numerous police from surrounding counties descended on the area near the Clay-Roane county line to search for the suspect. Police also searched for the man by helicopter.
Interstate 79 was shut down at the Wallback exit in both directions in the aftermath of the shooting.
Numerous troopers and police officers waited outside CAMC in downtown Charleston late Tuesday and early today, awaiting news about the wounded.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin flew back Tuesday night from The Greenbrier resort, where he was scheduled to speak at the state Chamber of Commerce's annual business summit today.
"This tragedy reminds us of the sacrifices that our law enforcement officers make every day to keep us safe," Tomblin said in a statement Tuesday night.
This morning, Tomblin called it "a sad morning in West Virginia." He said he met with families of the wounded officers at CAMC General on Tuesday night, calling it a "long, stressful night."
"It's a very difficult time. As with any situation like this, the words are hard to come by," Tomblin said.
The governor said he was deeply moved by the large turnout of officers at the hospital to provide support for the families.
"It was a very moving experience for me personally to go in and talk with the four different families," Tomblin said. "Please keep these families of these officers in your prayers, in your thoughts."
He said the family members at the hospital were in shock, but were supporting each other. According to Tomblin, one of the wounded officer's mothers said "This is what he did. This is what he wanted to do."
Tomblin ordered all U.S. and state flags lowered until further notice in honor of Bailey.
The West Virginia Troopers Association said in a statement, "It is incidents like these that remind us of the dangers of entering a law enforcement career. It is not just a job, it is a way of life. Our men and women in uniform make a conscious decision every day to put their lives ont eh line to protect all of us. It doesn't matter if you wear green, blue, or black, you are family. Those involved are in our thoughts and prayers and we ask everyone to take the time and thank those in uniform today for their service."
The last State Police trooper fatally shot on duty occurred in April 1993, when Trooper Larry G. Hacker in Harrisville was killed while responding to a dispute between two neighbors, according to The Associated Press. The alleged shooter in that case, Dennis Ferguson, 67, of Pullman, later killed himself in jail.
In 2007, a State Police trooper died after losing control of his cruiser on W.Va. 9 in Charles Town, the AP reported. Trooper B.W. Linn was responding to another trooper who was involved in a foot pursuit of a suspect at a convenience store.
Staff writers Kathryn Gregory, Lori Kersey and Phil Kabler contributed to this report. Reach Travis Crum at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5163. Reach Rusty Marks at email@example.com or 304-348-1254.