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Police retrace chase route

June 05, 1997

By DAVE McMILLION

Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Officers on Wednesday began retracing the route of a pursuit through southern Berkeley County the day before, hoping to find a gun a fleeing driver allegedly pointed at a deputy, prompting the officer to fire three shots.

"The probability of finding it is not very great," said Capt. Curtis Keller of the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department.

Arrested following the pursuit was Gordon Eugene Morse, 34, of Route 7, Hedgesville, according to Magistrate Court records. Morse, who is being held in the Eastern Regional Jail on $67,761 bond, was charged with a string of violations, including third-offense shoplifting, attempted unlawful assault and brandishing a deadly weapon, court records said.

Deputies were searching from the point where the man allegedly pointed the gun at Cpl. Greg Scappini in the parking lot of the Sportsmen's Inn along U.S. 11 near Inwood. to where he was stopped along Union Corner Road near Gerrardstown, Keller said.

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Sheriff's Department officials would not comment on Scappini's decision to fire after the man allegedly tried to run down Scappini in the parking lot of the bar.

Deputies must file a report whenever they fire a gun, and an investigation determines whether it was justified, officials said.

"If the shoot wasn't justified, then we'll deal with it internally," said Keller.

Keller said he believes one of Scappini's shots went through the driver's side window of the man's car and out the windshield on the passenger side. Keller said he believes the other two shots hit the ground.

The pursuit began after a suspected shoplifting of a $149 drill at Newbraugh's True Value Build America on U.S. 11 south of Martinsburg, according to court records. Police searched for a light-colored Pontiac seen leaving the store's lot, court records said.

At a 7-Eleven store at the intersection of U.S. 11 and W.Va. 51 in Inwood, Scappini saw a man pumping gas into a white Pontiac. When Scappini approached, the man jumped into his car and raced out of the parking lot, court records said.

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

The man backed up, attempted to run down Scappini, and then pointed a gun at him before the chase continued, court records said.

Deputies searched the man's car but could not find a gun or a drill, Keller said.

Scappini chased the car onto Interstate 81 and along several roads in the Arden area before the car drove into a ditch at Union Corner Road near W.Va. 45, police said.

Scapinni's car was one of two cruisers wrecked in the pursuit.

Deputy Ted Snyder was involved in the pursuit on Interstate 81 when he swerved to avoid another car and went into the median and struck a tree, Keller said.

Snyder was treated at City Hospital near Martinsburg and released, police said.

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