CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- After his daughter heard the gunshot and two vehicles sped away, Mike McCown, owner of My Space Mini Storage, trotted down the hill from his home to Unit 127, where he discovered spatters of blood and what police say was an illegal methamphetamine lab.
"There was blood everywhere," McCown recalled last week, then pointed to the bullet hole that pierced a nearby unit. "There were stolen guns, drugs and money. It's been a nightmare ever since."
McCown never imagined that someone would rent one of his 50 storage units to manufacture meth. There's no water, no electricity. My Space Mini Storage fronts Washington Street West in Cross Lanes.
"It's a good property," McCown said. "Gated, [surveillance] cameras, the whole nine yards. We never had any issues other than the time the Dominos pizza driver had a flat tire, came off the road and hit one of the units."
In December 2012, McCown rented Unit 127 to Rodger Wooten for $55 a month. Wooten had a criminal record -- felony grand larceny, breaking and entering, operating a clandestine drug lab -- but McCown didn't know about Wooten's troubled past.
"I would have never rented to the guy if I knew who he was," McCown said last week.
At about 8:30 p.m. on June 6, Wooten and his girlfriend drove up to Unit 127 and opened the storage unit door.
Minutes later, another man drove up and confronted Wooten, according to the sheriff's report. A fight broke out. The man kicked Wooten's girlfriend, according to a video of the incident.
Wooten grabbed an AR-15 rifle. He fired the rifle. The other man retreated, jumped in his car and drove off. Wooten and his girlfriend closed the storage unit door and left.
McCown, his employees and Kanawha sheriff's deputies arrived a short time later. They cut open the lock, lifted the door. Inside the storage unit, they found rubber tubing, rock salt, hydrogen peroxide and Coleman lantern fuel - all materials used to make meth. There also was a rifle case, generator, hot plate, and glass jars and containers brimming with toxic liquids.
"We could also smell a distinct odor associated with the manufacture of methamphetamine," Cpl. C.E. O'Neal wrote on the incident report. "I was very familiar with Rodger Wooten due to receiving several methamphetamine tips on him in the past and also arresting him for operating a methamphetamine lab in a residence just down the road..."
Hours later, sheriff's deputies tracked down Wooten and arrested him. Wooten was charged with operating a clandestine lab, wanton endangerment, grand larceny and illegal possession of a firearm. The rifle was stolen, and Wooten was barred from carrying a gun because of his previous felony convictions.