Two Troopers Now Dead from Shooting - Trooper Workman Has Passed
West Virginia State Police trooper Eric Workman has died.
Workman, 26, had been in Charleston Area Medical Center in a coma since Tuesday night when he was shot by Luke Baber following a traffic stop.
Workman and Corporal Marshall Bailey arrested Baber for driving erratically along I-79 near the Clay-Roane County line. Baber, while sitting in the back of the cruiser, his hands handcuffed in front of him, pulled a pistol he had hidden in his pants and shot both troopers.
Bailey died at the scene while Workman was rushed to the hospital where he was placed on life support, but his condition never improved and was ultimately taken off life support.
Baber was shot and killed by sheriff’s deputies from Clay and Roane counties as he tried to get away.
Roane County Sheriff’s Deputy John Westfall suffered several gunshot wounds in the shootout with Baber, but he was protected by a bulletproof vest. Westfall remains in Charleston Area Medical Center following surgery, but is recovering.
Additionally, a tow truck driver from Kings Wrecker Service, William Massey, was also shot by Baber. His wounds were not serious and he was treated and released from the hospital.
State Police Superintendent Col. Jay Smithers said in a statement Friday that Workman had a bright future ahead.
“Trooper Workman was an outstanding young man with a promising future. IT is unfortunate that his life was cut short by this senseless and cowardly act,” Smithers said. “Our prayers continue to be with his family and friends. I am overwhelmed by the support the West Virginia State Police family is receiving during this difficult time.”
Workman was from Ivydale in Clay County. He was a graduate of West Virginia State University where he was a standout baseball player. He was also an avid outdoorsman.
Workman joined the force just last year. He was not married.
“I met with Trooper Workman’s family earlier this week and I can honestly say without a doubt, West Virginia lost a very brave young man this afternoon,” Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said. “Joanne and I have held this family and the entire West Virginia State Police family in our prayers and we will continue to pray for them in the days ahead. May God bless the men and women who wear the uniform and whose mission it is to protect us all.”
Family members of Workman said he is an organ donor. “It is the family’s sincere hope that even in his death, his selfless service to others will continue by providing others an opportunity to live a fruitful life,“ a statement from the Governor’s Office said.
Meanwhile, funeral preparations are being made for trooper Bailey. There will be a private visitation Saturday and a public remembrance Sunday. Representatives of police agencies from across the state and around the country are expected at the 2 p.m. service at the Charleston Civic Center. The public is also welcome.
Bailey, 42, had been with the force 17 years. He was the father of three children.
Here again is the police timeline from Tuesday night’s shootings.
—At 7:25 PM, Nicholas County authorities reported a white Silverado pick-up driving recklessly on I-79 northbound. The truck, at one point, wrecked in the median then headed south.
—At 7:36 PM, Troopers Bailey and Workman stopped Baber at the Wallback park-and-ride along I-79 at the Roane-Clay County line. Baber was searched, determined to be under the influence, arrested, handcuffed with his hands in front of him and put in the back seat of the cruiser. A tow truck was called to take the pick-up Baber had stolen earlier in the day.
—At some point, Baber pulled a Hi-Point 9mm pistol that he had hidden, apparently in his groin area. He shot both Bailey and Workman as they sat in the front seat of the cruiser. Baber got out of the handcuffs and took a trooper’s pistol.
—Tow truck driver William Massey arrived. Baber shot and wounded Massey, then took off on foot.
—8:43 PM, Deputies from Roane and Clay Counties exchanged gunfire with Baber about 200 yards from where he was initially arrested. Baber was hit multiple times and killed. Roane County Deputy John Westfall was hit several times in the hand, shoulder and stomach, but was protected by a bullet-proof vest.
—Bailey, Workman, Westfall and Massey were taken to the Charleston Area Medical Center. Bailey was dead on arrival. Workman was gravely injured and remained in a coma until his death. Westfall underwent surgery and is in stable condition. Massey was treated and released.
The last state trooper to be fatally wounded by gunfire while on the job was Larry Hacker of Harrisville in 1993. He was investigating a dispute between neighbors when he was killed.
The shootings bring to 40 the number of West Virginia State Troopers who have died in the line of duty.
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, who visited the families of the victims in the hospital Tuesday night, ordered state flags flown at half staff and asked for the support of all West Virginians.
“We sometimes forget the kind of work our police officers do,” Tomblin said. “They are out there day and night, 24/7, protecting us, protecting our communities.”