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Police: No contact made with woman held inside W.Va. home

June 14, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH and HEATHER KEELS

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- West Virginia State Police this morning were back in contact with a Winchester, Va., man who police said was holding a woman hostage on Raider Lane near Martinsburg, W.Va., and were trying to negotiate with him, Lt. Lisa Lambert said at about 10:20 a.m. Monday.

About an hour later, State Police Capt. Rob Blair said that negotiations were continuing off and on with the man police identified as Donald Berkeley Surber, 37, of Winchester, Va.

Blair said authorities had not been in contact with the woman being held inside the house since early Sunday.

At about 10:44 a.m. today a West Virginia State Police special operations vehicle was seen heading over the hill toward the house. And a helicopter flew over the area.

Lambert said that after a period of time with no contact, police managed to make contact by telephone with the man inside 10 Raider Lane.

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On Sunday, the daughter of the female involved in the situation escaped from the home and called 911 at 11:47 a.m., Sgt. K.W. Martin said. The woman's ex-boyfriend was inside with a firearm, he said.

"We have made contact with him. He is communicating with us and we are communicating with him" Lambert said Monday. "We have been trying to work out some reasonable resolution."

As a result of the standoff, some residents were displaced and others were kept from leaving their homes.

Displaced neighbors were gathered in a nearby parking lot Monday morning, waiting for animal control services in the hope their pets could be retrieved from their homes.

Blair said access to homes was being granted on a limited basis, depending on the location.

"If we can help them, we get them back there, and try to do it in a safe manner," Blair said.

Officers responded from West Virginia State Police, the state police special-response team and the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department, Martin said Sunday.

Martin said he did not know how many homes had been evacuated.

Raider Lane is off Reliance Road, which is accessed by W.Va. 9 near Heffle Motor Co.

Lacy Godby, who lives on Escalade Lane about 30 yards from the house, said Sunday she left at noon and the road was not blocked. However, when she returned at about 3:30 p.m, Sunday, she was told she could not get into her house.

"I think there's a lot of people stuck in (their homes), they won't let leave," she said.

She and neighbors said it is a 300-unit subdivision that is home to a lot of families with small children and people working in law enforcement. Some said this was the first significant police incident they could remember there.

Resident Scott Barefoot said Sunday he left home at 3:30 p.m. and returned 30 minutes later, when he was told he could not enter his house. His daughter called from Baltimore to tell him she heard something was happening in the neighborhood, but he didn't believe it until he later saw emergency vehicles.

Barefoot said he needed to be home by 8 p.m. Sunday to get ready for work and was frustrated the standoff had continued so long.

Bob Cunningham of Denali Lane said Sunday he and his girlfriend were at a motorcycle show and tried to return home so she could get ready for work. At 2 p.m., he, like Godby and Barefoot, was told that he could not enter his house.

"It's very frustrating because my dog has been there without food and water," he said.

Godby added that she was concerned about her slow-cooker and starting a fire.

Residents of the Ridgefield subdivision who were displaced from their homes by the hostage situation had the option of going to Hedgesville (W.Va.) High School for food, water and shelter provided by the American Red Cross.

Ambulances from Hedgesville Rescue Squad and Berkeley County Ambulance Authority were standing by.

Staff writer Richard F. Belisle contributed to this story.

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