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Injured deputy was not wearing a vest

February 26, 2007|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.VA. - A Jefferson County Sheriff's Department deputy was not wearing a vest designed to protect him from gunfire when he was shot last Monday, Sheriff Everett "Ed" Boober said Sunday.

Cpl. Ronald Fletcher was not wearing his vest, as deputies are required to do, when he responded to 74 Orchard Drive in Ranson, W.Va., for a report of a man trying to break in through the back door of a home, Boober said.

Fletcher, 26, suffered gunshot wounds to his upper left arm and torso during the incident.

Boober said he did not know why Fletcher wasn't wearing the vest because he has not talked to the officer about the situation.

Boober said it is likely that Fletcher's injuries would not have been as serious if he had been wearing a vest.

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A spokeswoman at Washington (D.C.) Hospital Center, where Fletcher is being treated, said Sunday that his condition had been upgraded from serious to good.

The officer was moved from an intensive care unit to his own room and is continuing to work on breathing exercises to increase his lung capacity, Boober said.

The sheriff said he talked with Fletcher for about 15 minutes over the weekend and that the deputy was appreciative of the support he has received from people in Jefferson County.

Among those visiting Fletcher over the weekend were Dels. Locke Wysong, D-Jefferson, and Bob Tabb, D-Jefferson, Boober said.

"They were very pleased with his progress. Very pleased. His whole attitude and everything was good," Boober said.

Boober said it's not clear how long Fletcher might be at Washington Hospital Center.

The officer was wounded Monday after meeting Dorsey Cox, 37, of Ranson, in front of the home behind the Ranson Square shopping center at 10:13 a.m. Cox went into the house and Fletcher followed him inside, where he was shot.

Police said they were able to convince Cox, through the use of Fletcher's police radio, to let them enter the house to rescue the deputy.

Sean McCarthy, a paramedic with the Jefferson County Ambulance Authority, worked with Cpl. Keith Sigulinsky and Chief Bill Roper of the Ranson Police Department and Sam Smith of the Charles Town Police Department to rescue Fletcher, Boober said.

Sigulinsky began talking to Cox by radio and Roper, Smith and McCarthy entered the house, Boober said.

McCarthy is a member of a Special Operations Response Team that handles situations like Monday's and was equipped with special protective gear when he entered, said Ed Smith, operations manager for the Jefferson County Ambulance Authority.

McCarthy and Sam Smith pulled Fletcher from the house while Roper used a shield to protect the three as they backed out of the house, Ed Smith said.

Ed Smith said the training that people like McCarthy have taken to prepare for such a situation is a valuable asset to the county and "they proved it on Monday."

Cox would not leave the house after Fletcher was shot, leading to a six-hour standoff with police, who eventually shot tear gas canisters into the house and found Cox under a pile of clothes in a bedroom closet.

Cox fired a gun once and a member of a West Virginia State Police Special Operations team returned fire "multiple" times, state police said. It is not known whether Cox died from the shot he fired or from the shots fired by the officer.

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