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W.Va. deputy still critical

Suspect in shooting dies after standoff

UPDATE -

Suspect in shooting dies after standoff

February 20, 2007|by DAVE McMILLION

RANSON, W.Va. - A Jefferson County Sheriff's Department deputy remained in critical condition this morning, a day after he was shot three times when he responded to a break-in on Orchard Drive.

An ensuing six-hour standoff in the Orchard Hills subdivision ended in the death of Dorsey Cox, the man police believe shot Cpl. Ronald Fletcher.

Police were unsure whether Cox died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound or from a shot fired by members of a state police special response team who stormed the home.

Fletcher, a four-year veteran of the sheriff's department, remained in critical condition at Washington (D.C.) Hospital Center this morning, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

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Fletcher responded to the house at 74 Orchard Drive about 10:13 a.m. Monday for a call about a man trying to break in through a back door using a shovel, Jefferson County Sheriff Everett "Ed" Boober said.

On Feb. 14, Cox was asked to leave the house behind Ranson Square off Mildred Street by his girlfriend, Boober said.

On Monday, Cox was removing items in violation of a protective order, and when police arrived he was carrying toolboxes from the house, West Virginia State Police said.

Fletcher told Cox to put down the toolboxes and the man ran into the house, Boober said. Fletcher followed Cox into the house and was shot in the arm, the leg and the chest, West Virginia State Police Lt. S.D. Reckart said.

Two more officers tried to enter the house, and Cox fired two rounds at them, Boober said. The officers took cover behind a cruiser, Boober said. At one point, Cox was communicating with police using Fletcher's police radio and cell phone, state police said.

Police convinced Cox to allow them to enter the house to rescue Fletcher. Two officers - protecting themselves with shields - pulled Fletcher from the house, Boober said.

Two young children were in the house and Cox agreed to let them go, Boober said. The identities of the children were not known Monday night.

Cox would not leave the house, and throughout the afternoon police used negotiation techniques to try to get him to come out, including relying on help from close acquaintances and local clergy members, Boober said.

"There was every attempt made to get him out of the residence," Reckart said.

After negotiation efforts failed, police used tear gas in an attempt to drive out Cox. Before they fired the tear gas, officers heard what they thought were three gunshots inside. Police sneaked up behind the house and fired tear gas canisters through the windows.

A state police special operations team that entered the house found Cox in a bedroom closet under some clothes, state police said.

Cox fired a shot and a special operations team member returned fire, state police said. It is unclear whether the fatal shot was fired by Cox or the police officer, the release said.

Cox died while being flown to Washington Hospital Center, Jefferson County public information officer Barbara Miller said.

Investigators said they believe Cox tried to set the house on fire. Police saw smoke coming from the house's windows in the afternoon and a mattress in the bedroom was smoldering when police went in, Reckart said.

Officers from the West Virginia State Police and the Ranson, Charles Town, Harpers Ferry, Shepherdstown and Martinsburg police departments responded. The Berkeley County Sheriff's Department also responded.

Police outfitted with helmets and shields fastened handguns to their legs and carried rifles.

The eight officers who entered the house were members of the West Virginia State Police Special Response Team, and team members came from as far away as Moundsville, W.Va., Reckart said.

The shooting and standoff occurred in a busy area near the Ranson Post Office, a 7-Eleven store and several other businesses.

"It was pretty crazy," said Billy Williams, who watched the day's events unfold from his house at 149 Orchard Drive.

Boober said some people living near the scene were evacuated from their homes and people in the area were told to stay away from their doors and windows.

Billy Harrison, who lives next door, said he was surprised by the incident.

"To be honest, the neighborhood is pretty quiet," Harrison said.

Boober said police from around the area responded to the scene "like a magnet."

"It's at times like these we're wearing the badge together like never before. It's heart-wrenching," he said.

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