WESTON, W.Va. — The chief deputy of the Upshur County Sheriff’s Department is recovering from a gunshot wound and a suspect who shot him is dead after a chaotic scene on Interstate 79 at the Weston exit Thursday morning.
The incident started after 10:30 a.m. when a man in a silver Ford Explorer stopped his vehicle in the middle of the northbound lanes, exited the car and pulled out a scoped rifle and a handgun. Passing motorists indicated he was attempting to flag them down, but none would stop. He started randomly shooting.
The assistant director of Upshur County’s Office of Emergency Services happened to be passing the area at that time and called 911. Officers converged from multiple jurisdictions and departments on the scene. Among the first to arrive was Upshur County Chief Deputy Mike Coffman.
Upshur County Sheriff Virgil Miller said Coffman was shot through the thigh within minutes of his arrival as he attempted to stop traffic.
“The individual was taking shots randomly with a scoped rifle and he actually hit my chief deputy,” Miller told MetroNews.
The individual at first was shooting from behind the vehicle, but eventually crawled under the SUV and continued to shoot. Miller wasn’t sure if any other vehicles were hit.
“He was just randomly shooting at anyone. I don’t know if there were any other vehicles hit, but I’m sure there were because he fired several rounds,” Miller said.
Wild scene recounted on social media
One motorist passing by posted about the encounter on later Facebook:
“There is a guy in an SUV with a gun. He stopped right in front of me on the interstate. He came up to my truck with his gun trying to wave me down. I have my 2-year-old son with me, so I just pulled out and left and called 911,” she wrote.
Another motorist was traveling in the southbound lanes and came upon the incident before the highway was closed.
“They hadn’t shutdown the southbound lanes, so we were able to go through. We go through and there was a guy laying underneath a vehicle with a rifle pointed at the traffic,” said Carrie Mace of Frametown. She and her husband were headed home from a doctor’s appointment in Bridgeport.
“There were cars parked and pulling off everywhere. Nobody really knew what was going on at that point,” Mace added.
Law enforcement were dealing with several situations at once. They were attempting to neutralize the shooter as he randomly fired, but also trying to steer an interstate full of vehicles out of harm’s way. The situation was made more complicated when the suspect climbed under his vehicle.
The shooter was killed by police. West Virginia State Police are leading the investigation. The suspect’s name has not yet been released as troopers try to notify their family. The circumstances which led to the shooting are not known.