Shots fired during wild police chase

June 04, 1997


Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A man accused of shoplifting at a hardware store Tuesday led police on a chase through southern Berkeley County, attempted to run over an officer and displayed a weapon, prompting the officer to fire his weapon, police and court records said.

The chase finally ended near the intersection of Union Corner Road and Arden Road when the man drove the car into a ditch at the point where a set of "stop sticks" had been set up in the road, according to Sgt. K.C. Bohrer of the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department.

"He had no regard for anybody," said Bohrer.

Arrested was Gordon Eugene Morse, 34, of Route 7, Hedgesville, W.Va., according to Berkeley County Magistrate Court records.

Morse was charged with attempted unlawful assault, brandishing a deadly weapon, third offense shoplifting, driving revoked, reckless driving, failing to stop for an emergency vehicle and fleeing and eluding an officer, according to court records.


Morse was arraigned before Magistrate Sandy Miller Tuesday night and placed in the Eastern Regional Jail east of Martinsburg on $67,761 bond, officials said.

The incident began when a man and woman walked into Newbraugh's True Value Build America on U.S. 11 south of Martinsburg, according to court records. The woman walked to the housewares section and the man went to the tool section, said court records.

The man left the store with a blue plaid shirt over his arm as if he were concealing something, according to court records. A store worker then noticed that a Makita drill valued at $149 was missing, court records said.

The suspect's car, described as a light-colored Pontiac with plastic over a broken window on the driver's side, was seen driving south on U.S. 11, court records said.

At a 7-Eleven store at the intersection of U.S. 11 and W.Va. 51 at Inwood, W.Va., Cpl. Greg Scappini of the Sheriff's Department saw a man pumping gas into a white Pontiac Grand Am. When Scappini approached the man, he jumped into his car and drove out of the parking lot, said court records.

Scappini said he followed the car to the parking lot of the Sportsmen's Inn, north of the 7-Eleven, according to court records. When Scappini pulled into the parking lot, the suspect rammed Scappini's car, court records said.

The man backed up the car and attempted to run down Scappini, and then stuck a handgun out the driver's side window of the car and pointed the gun at Scappini, court records alleged. Scappinni then "fired shots at the subject" court records said.

Sheriff's Department officials would not say how many shots had been fired or whether Morse had been hit by the shots.

A spokeswoman at City Hospital in Martinsburg said Morse was not treated there Tuesday night.

The suspect drove through three private yards and made it back onto U.S. 11, court records said.

Bohrer said he spotted the suspect's car traveling north on Interstate 81 and followed the man off the Tabler Station Road exit, where the pursuit headed into the Arden area.

The chase continued on several roads in the Arden area, Bohrer said. Police would lose sight of the suspect then find him again and continue the pursuit, Bohrer said.

About 12 deputies and West Virginia State Police troopers were involved in the chase, Bohrer said.

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