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Officers describe standoff

Police probe how deputy, suspect were shot

Police probe how deputy, suspect were shot

February 21, 2007|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.VA. - Eight members of a West Virginia State Police Special Response Team made their way through a smoky house in the Orchard Hills subdivision Monday afternoon trying to find a man who allegedly shot a Jefferson County Sheriff's deputy.

They made it to a closet in a bedroom, where they saw a foot sticking out from under a pile of clothing, state police Capt. Rob Blair said.

Police said the man under the clothing was Dorsey Cox, a 37-year-old Ranson, W.Va., man who fired a shot from a gun.

Blair said a member of the Special Response Team responded by firing his gun "multiple" times, although Blair did not speculate how many shots were fired.

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It remained unclear Tuesday whether the shot fired by Cox or the shots from the police officer led to Cox's death.

Blair said Tuesday that he was awaiting preliminary results from an autopsy of Cox, which should help determine how the man died.

Cox was alive after he was shot, but he died while being flown to Washington (D.C.) Hospital Center, officials said.

Cpl. Ronald Fletcher was responding to the house at 74 Orchard Drive after receiving a call that Cox was trying to break in through a back door using a shovel, police said.

Police said Cox was removing items in violation of a protective order, but a check of Jefferson County Magistrate Court records Tuesday indicated no recent protective order issued against Cox.

A family protective order was issued against Cox in October 2005 but that was considered old since the orders usually only last for 180 days, court officials said.

Cox also did not have a criminal record, according to a court record check.

Police said Cox was asked to leave the house behind Ranson Square off Mildred Street by his girlfriend on Valentine's Day and was despondent.

Deputy shot

Fletcher met Cox outside the house and Cox ran into the house, police said. Fletcher followed Cox inside and was shot twice. He later was rescued by two police officers.

Cox would not leave the house, which led to a standoff with police that lasted more than six hours.

After negotiation efforts with Cox failed, police decided to fire tear gas canisters in the house in an attempt to drive him out.

Police also decided to use tear gas after they heard three gunshots in the house and could see smoke coming from inside.

Police believe Cox tried to set the house on fire. A mattress inside a bedroom was smoldering when they went in.

The Special Response Team entered the house through the basement and gradually made its way upstairs, Blair said. The house was filled with tear gas and smoke, and members of the police team used breathing apparatus to work, Blair said.

"Visibility was very limited," Blair said. The officers also detonated a "flash bang" device designed to distract Cox, Blair said.

When Fletcher arrived at the house, Cox allegedly was carrying toolboxes from the house. Fletcher told Cox to put the toolboxes down and Cox ran into the house, police said.

A state police crime scene team was working at the one-story house Tuesday morning and two toolboxes were outside the door. One toolbox had a number 2 beside it and the other had a number 3 beside it.

"No trespassing" signs hung in two of the windows.

Things seemed to be getting back to normal in the neighborhood Tuesday after the ordeal that required police to cordon off streets and evacuate some people from their homes. At one house, rescue workers helped two aged disabled people move to a lower part of their home to protect them from possible effects of the tear gas, a woman at the house said.

Neighbors said the incident was not characteristic of Orchard Hills and while there have been some problems with disputes or maybe some drug trafficking, they were nothing compared to Monday's events.

"We've lived here 13 years and it's a good neighborhood with good neighbors," said Joan Brammeier, who lives a few houses from where the standoff occurred.

Brammeier said she did not know a lot about the people who live at 74 Orchard Drive because she home-schools her children, which "keeps me from knowing" about neighborhood activities.

Kenny Shuits, who lives next door to 74 Orchard Drive, said Cox's girlfriend is nice and always waves when he is outside. Shuits said there was an occasional argument at the house, but none of them were bad enough to think that something like Monday's incident would occur.

"We were never on a personal level with them," Shuits said.

A woman at another nearby house said she went to school with Cox's girlfriend. The woman said she would say hello to Cox and there did not seem to be obvious signs of trouble there.

"Sad. Just sad," said the woman, who declined to be identified.

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