CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Radio traffic among law enforcement in pursuit of a murder suspect revealed a tense pursuit in Charleston last Saturday afternoon.

Officers initially spotted the vehicle of Samuel Lanham around 7th Avenue in North Charleston around 3:30 p.m. headed toward Charleston. Lanham was sought for the murder of Jody Thomas earlier in the day at a home in Clay County. The first officer to start the pursuit radioed for assistance from other officers when Lanham refused to pull over.

A Charleston Police officer entered the pursuit at 3:41 p.m. and reported the driver pointed a shotgun out the window and started shooting. Although the shots hit the cruiser, they did not injure the officer.

Once shots were fired, the intensity of voices on the radio ramped up as more units converged in an attempt to stop Lanham. Radio traffic revealed several turns the wrong way down one-way streets in the Capital City and traveling at a high rate of speed headed toward oncoming traffic.

Officers sought permission to return fire from a supervisor and were cleared but told to “watch their surroundings.”

At one point Deputies attempt to lay spike strips on Pennsylvania Avenue to stop the suspect vehicle. He managed to elude them and turned back toward Charleston. Officers noted in their radio traffic Lanham was traveling the wrong way on Kanawha Boulevard and headed toward the Charleston Rod Run and Doo-Wop event which was happening at the time on the Boulevard.

Before reaching the car show, Lanham turned and headed east on Washington Street where he crashed into another car at the intersection with Leon Sullivan Way. There was an exchange of gunfire and officers called for an ambulance. Momets later officers  reported Lanham was “Code Black.”

No officers or bystanders were injured in the exchange of gunfire. Two people in the vehicle involved in the crash which ended the pursuit were taken to the Charleston Area Medical Center.


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