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Trooper shooting suspect indicted

February 24, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

Fearful of a possible hostage situation, on the rainy night of Oct. 10, 2002, West Virginia State Police Trooper R.J. "Bobby" Elswick asked in advance that ambulances respond to a home off Harper Lane in Hedgesville, W.Va., Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely said Friday.

Soon after, a gunman fired one shot which hit Elswick above his left ear.

Within about a minute, the ambulance crews that Elswick had called for were on the scene of the shooting, which happened in a remote part of Berkeley County.

Miles from an ambulance station and in a situation where seconds count, Elswick may have unknowingly ensured his future, Games-Neely said.

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"He may have saved his own life," she said.

On Friday, a grand jury panel indicted the man accused of shooting Elswick - 37-year-old David Eugene Munday - on 28 felony and misdmemeanor charges. The counts are: entering without breaking, two counts of breaking and entering, three counts of kidnapping, six counts of wanton endangerment, one count of malicious wounding, four counts of attempted murder, four counts of brandishing a firearm, three counts of shooting a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling, one count of assault, one count of destruction of property, one count of attempting to commit a violent injury, and one count of fleeing on foot.

Munday could now face a jury trial.

Since the shooting, Elswick has undergone rehabilitation in a Georgia facility and recently returned home. He will continue rehabilitation in Hagerstown, according to West Virginia State Police Sgt. E.D. Burnett.

Burnett was one of four troopers who went to the Harper Lane home off Butts Mill Road west of Hedgesville that October night.

Calls to 911 indicated Munday may have been holding people hostage inside a trailer, so Burnett, Elswick and troopers Robert Copson and John Droppleman were deciding how to proceed, as they stood outside the house. Droppleman had a shotgun, a weapon commonly used during a hostage scenerio, Games-Neely said.

Meanwhile, Munday was watching from and waiting in a nearby wooded area, Games-Neely said. "They basically walked into an ambush," she said.

Munday allegedly fired one shot, which hit Elswick. Droppleman and Copson returned fire and chased after Munday, unaware their friend and fellow trooper was wounded, Games-Neely said.

Burnett turned to say something to Elswick and saw him on the ground. Burnett had to call 911 twice before the call went through, Games-Neely said.

Chasing the alleged gunman, Droppleman fired again and hit Munday with pellets from the shotgun, Games-Neely said. Munday was hospitalized briefly.

By the time Copson and Droppleman returned with Munday in custody, Elswick, 31, was being loaded into an ambulance, Games-Neely said.

Several of the charges, including kidnapping, contained in Friday's indictment stem from the situation to which Elswick and the other troopers were responding.

Munday had allegedly broken into Johnny Lambert Jr.'s trailer and used a .22 Magnum Marlin bolt-action rifle to hold Lambert hostage, believing the man or his wife were trying to break up the relationship between Munday and his girlfriend, according to court records.

Lambert's wife and stepdaughter each had called for help from separate homes, neither aware the other was safe, Games-Neely said.

Munday allegedly broke into Lambert's trailer three times and fired his gun at least twice before police arrived, Games-Neely said. He had threatened to shoot Lambert, Lambert's wife, his own girlfriend and any police officer who arrived, according to court records.

Munday is now being held in Eastern Regional Jail without bail.

Grand jury proceedings are held behind closed doors. Of the 16 jurors in the panel, 12 must agree for a "true bill" to be returned, which allows the case to proceed for possible trial.

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