The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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June 22, 2013

Suspect opens fire on deputies, is fatally shot

On home confinement in a felony child abuse case, Jonben man first holds an officer hostage, flees

— A Jonben man was fatally shot by law enforcement officials Friday after allegedly holding his home confinement officer hostage at gunpoint and opening fire on deputies, Raleigh County Sheriff Steve Tanner reported.

Charles Warren Wickline, 46, was apparently distraught about returning to jail after allegedly violating his court-ordered home confinement, according to officials.

Wickline was on home confinement as a condition of his bail on a felony charge of child abuse resulting in death from July 2012.

A county home confinement officer went to Wickline’s house on Bacontown Road Thursday evening to investigate a violation of Wickline’s home confinement conditions, said officials.

Home confinement officers are armed but may not make arrests outside of the home confinement system.

Officials said Wickline invited the officer into the house and pulled a gun on him.

“It would’ve been suicidal (for the officer) to reach for his gun,” said Tanner. “(Wickline) held the home confinement officer at gunpoint until he could get on a four-wheeler and flee the area.”

The HC officer notified officials, and several Raleigh County sheriff’s deputies came to Willabet Hollow Road to locate Wickline, who had fled through his backyard into a wooded area in Jonben, officials reported.

Deputies discovered Wickline approximately 10 hours later, around 5 a.m., lying on the ground and hidden behind a tree stump.

Deputies were unable to see Wickline’s hands, which he kept underneath him, officials said.

Wickline reportedly kept telling deputies that he would not go to prison.

According to civilian witnesses, deputies repeatedly negotiated with Wickline, encouraging him to show his hands and to surrender, said Tanner.

The morning was still dark, and the police couldn’t see whether Wickline had a weapon, said officials.

One deputy was able to get close enough to use a Taser, but since Wickline was already on the ground, the deputy was unable to change Wickline’s position in order to search for a gun.

After the voltage stopped, Wickline pulled a .45/410 pistol from underneath his body and fired a shot at the deputy who had used the Taser.

The shot missed the deputy, said Tanner. Another deputy returned fire, hitting Wickline in the chest.

“When he (Wickline) was struck, he was incapacitated,” Tanner reported. “(The deputies) removed the gun and immediately started CPR. A neighbor who was a paramedic ran out and assisted with CPR. They did CPR for 10 minutes until an ambulance arrived.”

Paramedics from the ambulance company continued CPR but were unable to revive Wickline, said Tanner. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Tanner declined to identify the deputies but said they are veteran officers whose actions he fully expects to be validated by an internal investigation.

“They used every trick and gimmick they had to take him into custody without harming him,” said Tanner. “They put themselves in harm’s way getting close enough to use a Taser, so I have nothing but admiration and respect for everything they did to try to protect him.

“It wasn’t until he literally shot at them that they returned fire.”

He added the deputies’ actions don’t warrant a suspension from duty but that they will receive psychological evaluations before returning to work.

“When you have compassionate, professional, decent people and they are forced to take a life, it has a tremendous impact,” said Tanner. “So we do have to make sure they are capable of returning to work.”

 According to Tanner, Wickline had backed his vehicle over a 13-month-old child of a relative in July 2012.

Tanner said Wickline was charged with child neglect resulting in death, a felony, because he was baby-sitting the boy at the time of the incident.

“We’re not saying he did it intentionally,” Tanner stated Friday. “We had evidence making us believe that while it was accidental in nature, he had a certain responsibility and did not show due care.”

Tanner added that deputies suspected Wickline, who had a lengthy criminal record prior to his death, was impaired by substances at the time he ran over the child.

— E-mail: jfarrish@register-herald.com

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