Ritchie County: Hunting-Related Death - Victim Suffered Heart Attack

The Gilmer Free Press

West Virginia Division of Natural Resources says a deer hunter in Ritchie County, WV suffered a heart attack and died on the first day of deer gun season Monday.

Investigators say Joe Clayton, age 73, of Smithville, WV, was hunting near Hazelgreen Road Monday evening, November 19, 2012 at around 6:30 PM when he collapsed and died.

The death is the first reported in the two-week season that runs through December 01, 2012.

Alum Bridge: Three People Dead in a Barn Fire

The Gilmer Free Press

Update: 11.13.12 - 10:02 aM

The West Virginia medical examiner has identified the woman and two children found dead this week after a barn fire in Lewis County.

First Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Nabila Haikal identified the victims as: 32-year-old Beth Ann Kraus; her 5-year-old son, Kaden Edward Kraus; and her 3-year-old daughter, Keira Marie Kraus.

Haikal performed the autopsies Tuesday. But the medical examiner’s office does not release causes of death.

Authorities have refused to say whether they believe the victims died before or during the blaze in Alum Bridge.

According to Mark Lambert Assistant State Fire Marshal a pistol was recovered in the fire scene.

The fire occurred sometime between Sunday night and Monday morning, when the woman’s husband phoned authorities.

Sheriff’s Deputy Robert Ryan said the husband had been working a midnight shift at his job. He declined to release any further details about the investigation Wednesday.


Update: 11.12.12 - 7:20 PM

The West Virginia fire marshal’s office says a woman and two children are dead after an overnight barn fire in Lewis County.

Deputy State Fire Marshal Reed Cook says the fire happened in Alum Bridge sometime between 7:30 PM Sunday and 7:30 AM Monday.

Cook wouldn’t immediately identify the victims, or provide any details about their deaths.

It’s unclear if they died in or before the blaze.

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Department said the children were both toddlers.

It did not provide any further information about them or say who found the victims Monday.

The barn was behind a home off Crooked Run Road.

Deputy Robert Ryan said the bodies will be sent to the state medical examiner’s office in Charleston.

The cause of the fire is also under investigation.


Three people (one adult and two toddlers) are dead after a barn fire in Lewis County.

The blaze took place sometime between Sunday night and Monday morning on Coopers Run Road near the community of Alum Bridge, WV.

The state Fire Marshal’s Office arrived on the scene at just before Noon Monday to begin its investigation.

The victims have not been identified.

Firefighters from the Midway Volunteer Fire Department and Alum Bridge were on the scene along with State Police Troopers and deputies from the Lewis County Sheriff’s Department.

The fire was first reported at 7:50 AM Monday morning.

Ritchie County: Natural Gas Wellhead Explosion Causing Gas Release

The Gilmer Free Press

According to Ritchie County Office of Emergency Services there was an issue with a natural gas well Tuesday evening, November 06, 2012 on Spring Run Road in Pennsboro.

Residents in the area smelled a strong odor of natural gas and alerted the officials.

Ritchie County office of emergency services said a conventional wellhead blew off, causing the gas release.

No injuries or health issues have been reported.

Officials said pressure from ice and possibly nearby Marcellus wells caused the incident.

Lewis County Man Sues WVDOC Over Car Accident

The Gilmer Free Press

A Lewis County man is suing the West Virginia Division of Corrections after he was injured in a car accident.

Hailey Mayfield, in her individual capacity and as administratrix for the Estate of John David Mayfield, was also named as a defendant in the suit.

On November 01, 2010, Edgar L. Bleigh Sr. was operating a 1996 Mack Tri-Axel Dump Truck loaded with gravel on U.S. 50 near West Union when John Mayfield, who was driving a 2007 Dodge Caravan passenger van owned by WVDOC, ignored a stop sign and flashing caution traffic signal and caused his vehicle to collide with Bleigh’s, according to a complaint filed Oct. 31 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Bleigh claims John Mayfield was acting in the scope of his employment as a correctional officer for WVDOC at the time of the collision.

As a result of the collision between the two vehicles, Bleigh’s truck overturned and spilled gravel over U.S. 50 and a fire ensued, according to the suit.

Bleigh claims he was trapped in his truck and tried to kick out a window to escape, but was unsuccessful. However, a bystander broke the window with a rock and Bleigh was able to escape the fire.

Due to the collision, Bleigh suffered serious personal and emotional injuries which are permanent in nature and he incurred medical expenses and loss of income, according to the suit.

Bleigh is seeking compensatory damages with pre- and post-judgment interest. He is being represented by David C. Glover.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Louis H. Bloom.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 12-C-2185

~~  Kyla Asbury - The WV Record  ~~

West Virginia Tops State Farm’s Deer-Vehicle Crash List

The Gilmer Free Press

State Farm says West Virginia continues to be the state where a vehicle is most likely to hit a deer.

West Virginia tops State Farm’s annual list for the sixth consecutive year.

The Bloomington, IL - based insurer released the latest list Tuesday.

State Farm says the odds of a deer-vehicle collision over the next year are 1 in 40 in West Virginia.

Virginia is ranked 10th with odds of 1 in 103.

Hawaii motorists are least likely to hit a deer with their vehicles. Hawaii’s odds are 1 in 6,801.

Nationwide, State Farm says client data show 1.23 million collisions between deer and vehicles between July 01, 2011, and June 30, 2012.

That is up 7.7% from the previous one-year period.

Glenville: Another Accident at Dangerous Intersection

The Gilmer Free Press

The Gilmer Free Press has learned about a three truck accident at the intersection of U.S. Highways 33/119 and WV Highway 5 in the Hays City area of Glenville WV.

The accident happened Friday morning, October 19, 2012.

Reports indicate a female passenger was taken to the hospital.

This the area where vehicles on U.S. Highway 33/119 coming from Linn, WV, turning left on to WV Highway 5 E have more right of way than vehicles going toward Linn, turning right to WV Highway 5 E.

OddlyEnought™: Florida Man Dies after Eating Roaches and Worms in Contest

The Gilmer Free Press

Authorities are investigating what caused a Florida man to collapse and die after consuming dozens of roaches and worms to win a roach-eating contest that featured a python as the grand prize.

Edward Archbold, age 32, beat out several other contestants who competed for the exotic reptile at the Ben Siegel Reptile Store in Deerfield Beach, Florida on Friday night, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office said.

But Archbold fell ill soon after the contest ended, according to the sheriff’s office.

He collapsed in front of the store and was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Law enforcement said no other contestants reported medical problems after the contest.

Detectives are waiting for autopsy results to determine Archbold’s cause of death.

Kandace Renee Skinner Brown

The Gilmer Free Press

Kandace Renee Skinner Brown

Age 22, of 240 Riverside Drive, Weston, died at 1:30 AM Saturday, September 15, 2012 in the CAMC in Charleston as a result of an auto accident of I-79.

She was born March 09, 1990 in Weston, WV a daughter of Michael Skinner and Melinda Brown Cowgar both who survive in Weston.

Also surviving are her step-father, Gene Cowgar of Weston. Maternal grandparents, Keith and Betty Lowther Brown of Jane Lew, and paternal grandparents, Roy Skinner of Weston and Johnny and Thelma Settles, both of Weston; one brother, Shawn Michael Skinner of VA; two cousins, Neysa and Mickel Brown; step-aunt, Keithia Helmick and several other aunts and uncles; two best friends, Kristy Lynn and Summer King. She was preceded in death by one brother, Joshua Lee Skinner.

Kandace was a cashier at Kroger Fuel Center in Weston.

She was Methodist by faith.

She loved spending time with family and friends.

Friends called at the Pat Boyle Funeral Home and Cremation Service at 144 Hackers Creek Road in Jane Lew, Monday from 4:00 to 8:00 PM.

Funeral services were held at 1:30 PM Tuesday, September 18, from the Pat Boyle Funeral Home and Cremation Service with the Reverend Dewayne Brown assisted by the Reverend Clifford West officiating.

Interment followed in the Forest Lawn Memorial Gardens.

Pat Boyle Funeral Home and Cremation Service is honored and privileged to serve the Brown family.

Neighbor Says Doddridge Man Was Weak

The Gilmer Free Press

A neighbor of the Doddridge County man, who died during a search from West Virginia State Police of his West Union, WV home last week, says she thinks troopers may have used too much force against him.

WV State Police officials say members of the State Police Special Response Team went to the home of Elton Wine,  age 71, last Thursday looking for John Bowman from Doddridge County who was wanted on marijuana growing charges.

They say Wine had an “extensive and violent” criminal history and was initially uncooperative.

At one point, officials claim Wine tried to take a trooper’s gun.

On Tuesday’s The Morning Edition, heard on MetroNews Affiliate WAJR-FM in Clarksburg, Judy Nicholson, who lived near Wine and helped take care of him, said his health would not have allowed for much resistance.

“His health was bad,“ she said.  “He had COPD.  He was very short of wind at the time.  He’d been sick the last couple of days.“

Wine eventually consented to the search.

He died after complaining of shortness of breath and becoming unresponsive while the law enforcement officers were in his home.

WV State Police say EMS workers were called in to help.

Nicholson, though, says she saw evidence of violence in Wine’s home which, she speculates, may have contributed to his death.

“They took him down in the living room.  There was glass off the coffee table busted everywhere,“ she said.

“The coffee table was pushed against the couch and there was blood on the pillow on the couch and you could go on into the kitchen and there was a big puddle of blood in one of Mr. Wine’s chairs.“

Bowman was arrested on Friday night.

Doddridge County: Man Dies During WV State Police Special Response Team Visit

The Gilmer Free Press

The West Virginia State Police say a Doddridge County man died after trying to interfere with a search for a wanted fugitive.

The body of Elton Wine, age 71, from West Union, WV was taken to the state Medical Examiner’s Office for a cause of death determination.

State Police Troopers say members of the State Police Special Response Team went to Wine’s home with a search warrant Thursday looking for John Bowman from Doddridge County who is wanted on marijuana delivery charges.

State Police say both Wine and Bowman have “extensive and violent” criminal histories.

At first, troopers say Wine was uncooperative.

He later relented, though, but then started complaining of difficulty breathing.

Reports indicate E.M.S. was called to help, but Wine became unresponsive and died.

Spencer Officials Raising Money to Buy More Ballistic Vests after 1 Saves Deputy’s Life

The Gilmer Free Press

City of Spencer officials are collecting money to buy up to 10 ballistic vests after a vest apparently saved a deputy sheriff’s life last week.

Roane County Deputy John Westfall was wounded Aug. 28 by 22-year-old Luke Baber of Oak Hill, who shot and killed two state troopers.

Baber also shot and wounded Westfall and a tow truck driver before he was shot and killed by sheriff’s deputies.

Westfall was shot in the arm and abdomen.

Roane County Sheriff Mike Harper said Westfall’s body armor saved his life.

But not every officer in Roane County has a ballistic vest, so Spencer marketing director Jacob Fetty started a fund-raising drive to buy more.

He says nearly $2,000 has been raised.

The vests cost $650 each.

Injuries in Lewis County Crash - Power Line Causes Accident On I-79

The Gilmer Free Press

Traffic was slowed on Interstate 79 in Lewis County this afternoon (Friday, September 07, 2012) after a power line fell across the highway striking a motorcyclist.

Police officials say a motorist struck a utility pole near the 101 mile marker in Lewis County.
The pole went down and so did the power line.

HealthNet Helicopter took one person to the hospital.

The accident happened just a couple of miles north of the Weston/Buckhannon exit.

All lanes were reopened by 3:30 PM.

Teacher among 3 Shot in Doddridge County; Juvenile in Custody

The Gilmer Free Press

Three people are dead after a shooting in Doddridge County, and authorities said Tuesday that a juvenile suspect who is in custody will be charged with first-degree murder.

Doddridge County Sheriff W.C. Underwood said the incident is under investigation and he would not immediately release any further details, but a press release issued late Tuesday afternoon said the suspect is related to the victims.

“We have to be careful about what we say,“ Underwood said.

The chief investigator, Deputy C.W. Modesitt, was at the scene Tuesday and issued a statement saying more details “will be released as they become available.“

School board President Carolyn Bowie said that veteran Ritchie Middle School 7th grade science teacher Dixie Spencer is among those killed Monday evening at the home near West Union.

Bowie said the other victims are the teacher’s husband, Frederick Spencer, a UPS pilot, and their daughter, a Doddridge County elementary student.

Doddridge County Commissioner Ralph Sandora said he knows the family and confirmed that the daughter attended Doddridge County Middle School, while the suspect is a junior at Doddridge County High School.

“It’s been a very hard day for staff and students,“ Bowie said. “It’s a small county so everyone is mourning together. I’m just speechless something like that would happen.“

Grief counselors were at the middle school and adjacent high school Tuesday, and Bowie said they would remain there all week.

Deputy C.W. Modesitt, of the Doddridge County Sheriff’s Department, released the following statement Wednesday:

“Due to the serious nature of this incident and the fact that juveniles are involved, the Doddridge County Sheriff’s Department will not be releasing any additional information on its investigation. Be advised that the Doddridge County Sheriff’s Department, with assistance from the West Virginia State Police, are thoroughly and exhaustively collecting and analyzing every piece of information and evidence linked to this crime. We feel that the privacy and peace of the surviving family members is of chief importance through this ordeal.“

Clay County: A Goodbye Tribute to Trooper

The parking lot was full Tuesday evening at the Clay County High School as visitation was held for fallen West Virginia State Trooper Eric Workman.

Family and friends lined up to pay tribute to Workman.

Workman and fellow State Trooper Corporal Marshall Bailey were shot last week following a traffic stop just off from Interstate 79 at the Wallback Exit.

The Gilmer Free Press

Bailey died at the scene and Workman died Friday in the hospital.

Visitation began at 2:00 PM and concluded at 9:00 PM.

The crowd that gathered included family, friends, community members and fellow State Troopers.

People came out of the high school with mix reactions.

Some had tears as they thought of life without him and some had a smile as they remembered the good times they had with Workman.

One thing was evident though; Workman will be missed by a lot of people.

A public funeral is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon at 2:00 PM at the Charleston Civic Center.

Harrison County Student Takes Her Own Life as Result of Bullying

The Gilmer Free Press

Harrison County school district in North Central West Virginia is dealing with untimely death.

Grief counselors were at Liberty Harrison High School Tuesday where students and staff are dealing with a student death that’s being blamed on bullying.

Ashley McIntyre took her own life Friday, August 31, 2012, and her family says bullying was the reason.

Harrison County School Board President Mike Queen is encouraging people to wear pink as a show of support for Ashley’s family.


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Doddridge County: Shooting Near West Union

The Gilmer Free Press

Update (4:01 PM):

Although the reports available are very sketchy, the juvenile suspect is related to the victims.

The juvenile will be charged with three counts of first degree murder, according to a news release from the Doddridge County Sheriff’s Department.

Also according to Ritchie County Schools one of their teachers was the victim in this multi-shooting incident.

The teacher reported to be Dixie Spencer.

She taught 7th grade science at Ritchie County Middle School.


Update (11:52 AM):

According to Doddridge County Sheriff Department the suspect is a juvenile and in custody.


The Doddridge County 911 received calls about a shooting about 6:00 PM, Monday night, September 03, 2012.

Doddridge County Sheriff and the WV State Police responded to the scene in West Union.

According to reports the shooting happened on Matson Road near WV Hwy 18 N.

Reports indicate multiple people were shot and the shooter is custody.

However, neither Doddridge County 911 nor the police officials confirm any of the reports on the number of victims and whether the shooter is in custody.

Shootings Suspect Had Other Run-ins with Law

The Gilmer Free Press

A man who fatally shot two West Virginia troopers and wounded two others had previous run-ins with the law, including a 2009 incident in which he told officers that he wanted police to kill him.

West Virginia State police say Luke Baber, age 22, of Oak Hill, WV fatally shot Cpl. Marshall Lee Bailey and wounded Trooper Eric Workman, who later died at the hospital at the Wallback park-and-ride off Interstate 79 during a traffic stop Tuesday night, August 25, 2012.

Baber also wounded a tow truck driver and Roane County Sheriff’s Deputy John Westfall before he was killed in a shootout with other officers.

Baber threatened his parents with a weapon that turned out to be a BB gun in 2009.

Baber struggled with Fayette County sheriff’s deputies who responded to the incident and told them after he was in custody that he wanted police to kill him, according to a criminal complaint.

Fayette County Sheriff Steve Kessler said Baber was charged in that incident with domestic assault and obstructing an officer.
“To my knowledge, he pleaded guilty and went to jail,“ Kessler told the Charleston Daily Mail.

Baber was charged in January with uttering but the charge was later dismissed after no victim appeared in Fayette County Magistrate Court.

Oak Hill Police Chief Mike Whisman said Baber was charged in July 2010 with destruction of property and in July 2011 with petty theft.

“He was known to us,“ Whisman told the Daily Mail. “I’m not sure if I’d say well-known.“

Baber’s aunt, Janet Baber, said the family is devastated by Tuesday’s shootings. She said the family reached out to WV State Police to offer condolences and thank troopers for their service.

“We are just very sad for those policemen and for their families — those innocent people,“ she told the Charleston Gazette.

Janet Baber said her nephew “just had problems and it got the best of him.“

Those problems included drug abuse, according to Janet Baber and Laura Maroney, a friend of Luke Baber’s.

“His friends knew about his drug problems,“ Maroney told the Daily Mail. “But he was a very private person. I’d ask him about it, but he didn’t want to talk about it.“

Marone and other friends asked Luke Baber to get help. “But it seemed like he didn’t want help,“ she said.

Brian Hamilton said he and Baber had been best friends since age 12. They had planned to go fishing Tuesday night but the plan was canceled.

“If we went fishing, that would have never happened to him or the police or anyone,“ Hamilton told WSAZ-TV. “It would have been better for everyone all around.“

Bailey’s funeral is set for 2:00 PM Sunday at the Charleston Civic Center, according to Gatens-Harding Funeral Home in Poca .

No arrangements has been made for Workman’s funeral at this time.

Parkersburg: Young Girl Dies in Hot Car

The Gilmer Free Press

The Wood County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the death of a young girl who was found in a car Thursday evening (08.30.12).

Wood County Sheriff Jeff Sandy says the girl, believed to be two or three-years-old, was found in a car in Aqua Asles Trailer Court at around 5:30 PM.

Sheriff Sandy says an investigation is underway.

He says he is not sure if the death was intentional or an accident.

He does believe she was in the car for a long period of time.

The high temperature in the Parkersburg area Thursday was 89 degrees.


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Trooper Shooting Update: No Improvement for Injured Trooper

Update: 3:59 PM

Funeral arrangements set for State Trooper Marshall Bailey:

Visitation will be from 1:00 PM to 6:00 PM on Saturday, August 31, 2012.

The funeral will be held at Gatens-Harding Funeral Home in Poca, WV.

A funeral service will be at 2:00 PM on Sunday, September 01, 2012 at the Charleston Civic Center.


The West Virginia State Police trooper, shot by a suspect on Tuesday is still in critical condition at Charleston Area Medical Center while work to plan a funeral for another State Police trooper continues.

West Virginia State Police Spokesperson Sgt. Michael Baylous said Thursday morning Trooper Eric Workman from Clay County remained in a coma and on life support.

“We need people to continue with their prayers and concerns and we need prayer for strength,“ Sgt. Baylous said.

The Gilmer Free Press
Trooper Eric Workman

Sgt. Baylous says video from the cruiser shows Luke Baber, age 22, from Fayette County was patted down during his arrest for reckless driving in a stolen pickup truck Tuesday night near the Wallback exit off Interstate 79.

Later, though, Baber was able to get to a 9 mm handgun he was carrying and shot the two troopers who had arrested him from the back of the cruiser.  Both were shot in the head and neck areas.

Sgt. Baylous says it looks like the troopers just missed the gun during the search.

“That happens,“ he said.  “How many times do we see, almost on a daily basis, where someone is going through a security checkpoint, whether it’s at a courthouse or an airport or wherever, and even with all the modern technology they have available, sometimes it just happens.“

Trooper Workman survived the shooting but is seriously injured.  Corporal Marshall Bailey, age 42, from Putnam County was killed.  Corporal Bailey had been with State Police for 17 years.

As of Thursday morning, funeral arrangements for him had not been finalized.

Sgt. Baylous says everyone is in mourning, “You go through the same life experiences, you know what’s going on with them.“

Baber was shot by deputies from Roane County and Clay County during his fleeing attempt.

John Westfall, a Roane County Sheriff’s deputy, who was shot by Baber during his escape attempt could be released from the hospital within a couple of days.

A tow truck driver from Kings Wrecker Service who also responded to the scene is now at home, recovering from his injuries.

West Virginia State Police Release Official Details on Last Night’s Incident in Clay County

Last night at approximately 7:30 PM, two West Virginia State Troopers pulled over a car for reckless driving at the Wallback Park and Ride off of I-79 in Clay County.

The suspect, Mr. Luke Baber of Oak Hill, WV from was taken into custody and placed in the back of a State Police cruiser.

The Gilmer Free Press
Corporal Marshall Lee Bailey

While the two Troopers were awaiting a wrecker to tow the suspect’s vehicle, it is believed that Mr. Baber shot both officers with a gun he had in his possession when he was apprehended.

Several minutes later, King’s Wrecker Service arrived on the scene. The driver of the wrecker, William Massey, was shot in the arm by Mr. Baber but he was able to escape and call for help within minutes. Mr. Baber then fled the scene on foot.

A short time later, Sheriff Deputies from Clay and Roane County encountered Mr. Baber in a wooded area at which time gunfire was exchanged, resulting in the suspect’s death.

Corporal Marshall Lee Bailey died at the scene as a result of the injuries he received.

Trooper Eric Michael Workman was also shot; he was transported to Charleston Area Medical Center, where he is currently listed in critical condition.

Roane County Deputy Sheriff John Westfall was also injured. Deputy Westfall was shot by the suspect in a wooded area shortly before Mr. Baber was killed. He was transported to Charleston Area Medical Center; his injuries appear to be non-life threatening, and his condition is currently being evaluated.

“This has been a very difficult day for our law enforcement community. This afternoon, I’d ask all West Virginians to pray for the family of the courageous State Police Trooper who was killed in the line of duty, and for the other three individuals who were injured and remain in the hospital,“ said Governor Tomblin. “This terrible tragedy reminds us of the sacrifices our law enforcement officers make every day to keep us safe. Please keep them in your prayers.“

“First and foremost, I’d like thank all of the local and federal agencies who assisted in our efforts to locate the suspect. We had an outpouring of support, and we’re very appreciative of the collaborative effort that helped us located Mr. Baber so quickly,“ said Col. Smithers. “This afternoon, I’d ask all West Virginias to pray for the family of Corporal Bailey. I’d also ask folks to continue to pray for the other individuals who were injured.“

Shooter Had Criminal Record

Luke Baber, the 22-year-old Oak Hill man whose rampage last night in Clay County left one state trooper dead, another critically injured, a third officer wounded and a fourth person with gunshot wounds, had been in trouble with the law before.

The Gilmer Free Press
Luke Baber

According to Fayette County Magistrate Court records, Baber was arrested in 2009 on misdemeanor charges of domestic battery, domestic assault, obstruction of an officer and simple possession.

The court clerk says the records show Baber pleaded guilty to domestic battery and obstructing an officer.

He was fined and sentenced to six months in jail, but the sentence was suspended and he was ordered to perform community service.

The court records show that Baber was arrested again earlier this year, this time on felony charges of uttering, which is similar to forgery.

It is unclear what the disposition of those charges was.

Baber was shot and killed by sheriff’s deputies as he tried to flee the crime scene last night. 

Baber’s Friends Speak..

Friends who knew 22-year old Luke Baber of Oak Hill, WV are shocked at the news of his violent death.

“He was a close friend, and because of that it’s hard to imagine someone is capable of doing something like that,“ said friend Riley McCoy. “He was a good guy, who was willing to help out anyone in any time of need. He smiled a lot, and had a lot of life.“

Other friends shared stories of the 2008 Oak Hill graduate on their Facebook pages.  He enjoyed riding his bike and hanging out with friends.

“So surreal right now. I just saw him over the weekend and now he’s gone? Just like that?!“ posted one friend. “So crazy.“

Another close friend offered a post which may shed more light into what happened Tuesday night.  Baber was shot and killed by deputies near Wallback after he engaged in a shootout with State Police who had pulled him over. 

“I’m not justifying what Luke did tonight was right because it wasn’t under any circumstances.  I understand the law enforcers did what they had to do,“ wrote a close acquaintance, “But that doesn’t change the past or the relationship that I shared with Luke. Luke was on drugs, and they influenced his way of thinking tonight.“

Friends say Baber had been battling substance abuse for some time.  McCoy says getting into a shootout with law enforcement wasn’t anything anyone would have expected from him.

“I witnessed once he was threatened to get into a fight at a party and he actually backed down and used rationality to avoid the fight. That makes what happened last night even more staggering, and shocking,“ McCoy said. “To say I loved him is an understatement but I’m still reeling from what has happened.“

“The real Luke I know and love would have never done anything like this. He wasn’t perfect, no one is, and he made a wrong choice tonight, but ill still never forget him or look down on him.” writes one friend. “My heart goes out to all the families affected by this tragic event.”

Bulletproof Vest Saved Roane Deputy’s Life

The Roane County deputy shot in Tuesday’s tragic encounter in Clay County is expected to make a full recovery.

Deputy John Westfall was searching for suspect Luke Baber, who had just shot two West Virginia State Troopers. Westfall and several Clay County deputies were searching a wooded area near the Wallback park-and-night when shots were fired and he was hit in the wrist, left shoulder and abdomen by Baber. Baber was killed in the return fire.

The bulletproof vest he was wearing saved the deputy’s life. Westfall had to have surgery on the more serious shoulder injury.

Roane County Prosecutor Josh Downey visited Westfall in the hospital at CAMC Tuesday night.

“He is going to be OK,” Downey said on MetroNews Talkline Wednesday morning. “But he’s going to have a road to haul in his recovery and rehabilitation with that shoulder because of the placement of the injury.“

Downey says even though Westfall was in pain he was making the best of the situation.

“He was in as good a spirits as you can possibly be, attempting to joke with some of the other officers who were there, trying to lighten the situation.“

Downey says from what Westfall told him, the deputy never fired his gun. In fact, the prosecutor doesn’t believe any of the Roane County deputies involved in the manhunt fired a shot. But he stresses that is still under investigation.

While Westfall is healing, he and the other members of the force are keeping the families of the two troopers in their thoughts and prayers.

“All these guys know each other. They work with each other. They’ve got each other’s back. You could see that last night at the hospital,“ said Downey

No word on when Westfall will be released from CAMC.

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