The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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September 14, 2013

Police search for suspects in connection with Rupert shooting

A Rupert man who was shot in the head Friday while trying to help a neighbor did not sustain life-threatening injuries, Greenbrier County Sheriff’s officials reported Friday night.

The 49-year-old man was not identified Friday night by Greenbrier Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Bruce Sloan, but Sloan did say that he is recuperating at Charleston Area Medical Center and that surgery may be performed to remove the bullet from his right temple.

The man was shot early Friday while giving chase to a car that he believed belonged to a prowler.

“He did not appear to have injuries of a life-threatening nature, which was amazing,” Sloan said.

According to Sloan, his deputies and the West Virginia State Police are cooperating to locate the shooter.

The incident started shortly before 2 a.m. Friday, when a female resident of Rupert thought she heard someone walking around outside her home.

“She wasn’t sure if someone was attempting to break into the home, or what the situation was,” said Sloan.

The woman contacted two neighbors, the 49-year-old gunshot victim, and a 22-year-old man to ask for help.

During a search of her property, the neighbors noticed someone running from the woman’s mobile home on foot, police said.

“They lost sight of that individual, didn’t know where he had actually gone to,” Sloan reported. “So they talked to the owner of the home, then drove around Rupert a few minutes to see if they could see anyone.”

When the neighbors didn’t see a suspicious person, they returned to the woman’s home, police said.

“They see a vehicle with its park lights on,” said Sloan. “The vehicle accelerated out of the area, so they suspected it may be that the occupants of that vehicle was connected to whatever was occurring around the home,” Sloan added.

The duo started following the vehicle in an attempt to identify the license number and get a better look at the car, Sloan said.

The neighbors trailed the vehicle — a burgundy Pontiac Grand Am with temporary tags — through back streets in Rupert, eventually turning onto Anthony Road on U.S. 60, Sloan said.

The 22-year-old neighbor fired at the Pontiac with a paintball gun, said Sloan.

“One of the occupants of (the Pontiac) started firing back with a weapon,” Sloan said.

In a volley of gunfire, the Pontiac turned west on 60. Bullets continued to erupt from the vehicle, firing towards the following car, Sloan said.

“One of the rounds entered the passenger side of the front door of the vehicle, went through the glass, and struck the driver in the right temple,” said Sloan.

The driver turned from the roadway into a nearby bank parking lot and stopped following the Pontiac, which was still headed west.

As the 22-year-old was checking the driver’s wound, the Pontiac approached them again, police said.

Shots were once again fired from the Pontiac. One slug struck the 22-year-old man’s ankle, Sloan reported.

The Pontiac continued east on 60 toward Sam Black, then entered Interstate 64, heading toward Beckley, Sloan said.

According to the neighbors, there were three men in the Pontiac, police said.

On Friday, Greenbrier deputies and a trooper from the Beckley detachment located the Pontiac on Irish Mountain in Raleigh County.

Sloan said he was grateful for the “tremendous cooperation” between his agency and several State Police detachments.

He added that officers were still working late Friday night to locate the shooters.

A suspect list has been developed, and the names of the victims may be released today, he added.

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

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