Community support continues for seiously injured trooper

October 23, 2002|by DAVE McMILLION

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Firefighters from all of Berkeley County's volunteer fire departments will fan out across the county Saturday to raise money for West Virginia State Police Trooper R.J. Elswick, who remains in critical condition in a Maryland hospital after being shot in the head during a domestic call on Oct. 10.

The county's volunteer firefighters will conduct a boot drive at various locations on county roads from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday to help raise money for Elswick, said Mary Lou Largent, rescue chief for the Baker Heights Volunteer Fire Co.

Some volunteer firefighters from Morgan County, W.Va., are also expected to participate, as well as Lambert's Ambulance Service in Hedgesville, W.Va., Largent said.


Largent said the county's volunteer firefighters wanted to do something to help Elswick since the county's fire units work closely with local law enforcement agencies on emergency calls.

There has been an outpouring of support from the community for Elswick since he was shot on Harper Lane near Hedgesville.

During the Mountain State Apple Harvest Festival last Saturday in Martinsburg, people along the festival's parade route in downtown Martinsburg crowded around a slow-moving cruiser being driven by Berkeley County Sheriff Randy Smith.

People were putting money through Smith's car windows after a sign was put up in them welcoming donations for Elswick, police said.

Nearly $4,000 was raised during the parade, Largent said.

On Saturday, volunteer firefighters will be at the following locations for the boot drive: Inwood; exits 12 and 13 off Interstate 81; Edwin Miller Boulevard; Warm Springs Avenue; U.S. 11 north; Hedgesville; and possibly other locations, Largent said.

Other businesses have also shown their generosity, including the State Farm Insurance office on Edwin Miller Boulevard.

The insurance agency has been selling ham sandwiches at local businesses in hopes of raising $2,000 for Elswick, said Kelly Collins, a staff assistant for the insurance office. About 1,400 sandwiches have been sold, she said.

State Police are grateful for the support they have received in Washington County while Elswick is being treated at Washington County Hospital.

Members of the Hagerstown Police Department and the Maryland State Police have been bringing food to the hospital for Elswick's family members and helping out with lodging for them, said West Virginia State Police Sgt. Deke Walker.

"I'm sure there are many more organizations that have assisted," Walker said.

Doctors battled swelling in Elswick's brain with surgery and medication since he arrived at the hospital.

Troopers, other local police, family members and other visitors have been at Elswick's side to monitor his progress at the hospital.

On Monday, Elswick underwent surgery again to clean the wound and make sure no infection has set in, Walker said.

Because Elswick has not been conscious since he was shot, it is hard to determine what degree of damage he has suffered, Walker said.

"It's still a long way to go," he said.

The expenses the family are most concerned about are the rehabilitation services that will be needed for Elswick, said Terri Kearns, wife of local West Virginia state trooper Tom Kearns.

Elswick's wife will eventually have to quit her job so she can take care of her husband, Terri Kearns said.

"She has not left his side yet," said Terri Kearns.

David Eugene Munday, 37, allegedly shot Elswick after Elswick and Trooper John Droppleman responded to a call about a possible domestic situation on Harper Lane, police said. When Munday saw police arriving, he left a nearby home carrying a .22 magnum bolt action rifle, court records said. Munday ignored orders to put down the gun and shot Elswick, police allege.

Droppleman returned fire and wounded Munday. Munday was treated at City Hospital in Martinsburg and is being held without bail in the Eastern Regional Jail near Martinsburg.

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