Martinsburg man found shot to death

September 15, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - Police said they were trying to figure out why a 60-year-old Martinsburg man was shot to death as he sat in his pickup truck off Winchester Avenue Tuesday morning.

Bart Gilbert Bannar Jr., of 801 Virginia Ave., Apt. 1, was shot several times. He was taken to City Hospital in Martinsburg, where he was pronounced dead.

Exactly how many times Bannar was shot was one of the questions facing investigators, said Martinsburg Police Department Chief Ted Anderson.


The shooting happened around 3:46 a.m. on Cumberland Valley Place, a narrow alley-like road that is mostly used by people who live in houses and apartment buildings that front Winchester Avenue, which runs parallel.

Investigators spent the day collecting evidence, doing forensic crime-scene work and interviewing people, Anderson said. Bannar's late-model tan Toyota truck was impounded, he said.

Police do not have a suspect and were not focusing on any particular possible motive.

"I think it's too early to speculate on that," Anderson said.

Bannar's body was taken to South Charleston, W.Va., where an autopsy was to be performed today, he said.

Martinsburg Police Department officers were dispatched to Cumberland Valley Place for a call of possible gunshots, according to police.

Anderson said he was not sure who placed that phone call.

When officers arrived, they found the Toyota parked with the engine running. Bannar was slumped over in the driver's seat with blood on him, police said.

Bannar had wounds on his chest and arm, police said. No gun was found at the scene and Anderson said the shooting was not a drive-by.

Two clerks working Tuesday night at a 7-Eleven at the intersection of Winchester Avenue and King Street said they were not aware that a shooting had occurred a block away.

Officers with the Eastern Panhandle Drug and Violent Crime Task Force were assisting the Martinsburg Police Department.

Past record

Anderson said he believed Bannar had been arrested in the past, but he did not have any details readily available.

A check of Berkeley County Magistrate Court records showed that Bannar had faced several misdemeanor and felony charges over the past year, including drug-related charges and one count of violation of sex offender registration rules.

No further information about the sex offender-related charge, which was filed on July 3 and was pending, could be obtained.

Two of the drug charges stemmed from a case handled by Detective Sgt. George Swartwood, who is investigating Bannar's death.

According to court records, on June 22 Bannar met with a confidential informant at the intersection of Buxton Street and Virginia Avenue in Martinsburg. Bannar and the informant went to West Virginia Avenue, where Bannar walked into a home. He walked out a short time later and gave a piece of crack cocaine to the informant in exchange for cash, records allege.

Bannar was charged with possession with intent to deliver crack cocaine and possession of less than 15 grams of a controlled substance.

Those charges were forwarded to Circuit Court.

Bannar was charged with a third drug offense - possession of less than 15 grams of a controlled substance - on Aug. 30, 2003. That case was handled by West Virginia State Police.

Bannar also was arrested by officers with the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department. Charges stemming from sheriff's department investigations included leaving the scene of an accident, two counts of obtaining money or goods by false pretenses and traffic offenses, records state.

On paperwork he filled out in June requesting a public defender, Bannar wrote that he had no job but did receive $800 a month in disability payments. He listed no dependents.

Tips from the public in connection with the fatal shooting would be appreciated, Anderson said.

"It's an open investigation, what we would call a hot investigation and we're seeking any assistance from the public," he said.

Anyone with information may call the Martinsburg Police Department at 304-264-2100.

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