A Beckley man apparently took his own life inside a Raleigh County church on Monday, moments after he’d shot and killed an elderly Clear Fork man who had come to his aid, West Virginia State Police reported Monday.

Sgt. M.S. Horne reported that David Jesse Young, 29, had been car-jacking throughout Raleigh County Monday morning.

“Right now, we have confirmed he stole three cars,” Horne reported Monday evening. “They were all taken (Monday).”

Young had stolen at least one of the vehicles from Beckley, Horne said. 

Young left Beckley and drove toward Clear Creek, a rural, unincorporated community, in western Raleigh County.

“We don’t have a motive of where or why he was down in that area, or what was transpiring earlier in the day, or why he was taking cars,” Horne said, adding that the investigation is in the early stages. 

At a Clear Creek convenience store, Horne said, Young made an unsuccessful attempt to steal a coal truck.

”The coal truck driver was able to yank him out of the truck before he took off in it,” Horne said.

Young drove along Clear Fork Road until, according to Horne, he crashed his vehicle outside of Collins’ home at 1798 Clear Fork Road, just outside of Clear Creek.

Collins was apparently being a Good Samaritan when he encountered Young.

“The victim was going to see if he needed any help,” Horne said. “That’s when (Young) tried to take (Collins’) vehicle.”

Horne said that Collins and Young had a physical altercation, in which Collins “was trying to defend his own property.”

During the struggle, the sergeant said, Young apparently shot and killed the older man.

The incident occurred around 1 p.m.

A caller notified Raleigh Emergency Operations Center of Collins’ shooting, and Senior Trooper Mollohan and other state troopers went to the Collins home, where Collins’ family members were with the victim.

Mollohan learned that a witness had last seen Young entering Spruce Tabernacle Church on Clear Fork Road, around two miles north of the Collins home.

Horne was among those troopers who entered the small, white church, he said.

Horne said Young had apparently died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

“The suspect was located at the front of the altar, by a crucifix, when we made entry,” Horne reported.

Troopers notified the pastor of the church, and Horne said police quickly released the church to the pastor so that he could begin cleaning it.

Young’s family members were notified of his death, he added.

It was unclear Monday evening whether Young had a prior criminal record.

“We don’t have a lot on him, so I would say no (criminal records),” Horne said, reiterating that the investigation is in the early stages.

On social media, Collins’ neighbors in the small, rural community asked for prayers. They expressed shock that an attempted car-jacking and deadly shooting had taken a neighbor’s life.

 -- Email: jfarrish@register-herald.com; follow on Twitter @JessicaFarrish

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