UPDATE: Name of Gunman Released; Motive Still Unknown

By: Bruce Layman, Lauren Weppler, Todd Baucher Email
By: Bruce Layman, Lauren Weppler, Todd Baucher Email

Updated: 08/12/2010 5:30pm

Joe Moravy operates a hot dog stand near the Wirt County Courthouse...he said several people he spoke to had some knowledge of Joseph Dennis Harrison.

"He may not have been from this area for a long period of time," Moravy said. "All I've heard is he's not a real local person."

Sgt. Michael Baylous of the state police could not confirm how long Harrison, 45, had lived in the area. He also said no motive had been established for the shooting. Sgt. Baylous added a UPS truck driver, who Harrison had taken hostage to drive him to the state police barracks had been interviewed by authorities, but did not identify the driver.

In recent weeks, there have been several deaths in the county, two of them involving fatal vehicular accidents. this has only added to the questions being asked in the community.

"You think it's safe to take your kids to the playground to play and sit on the benches and watch them...it's not safe any more," says mother of two children Chandra Jenkins. "You don't know what's going to happen."

But others don't believe Wirt County is isolated from other communities.

"Probably a shock," noted Orpha Underwood "But these things happen."

"It could be from domestic violence," said Ernest Allen. "It could be from family problems...it could be just about anything."

Sgt. Baylous said there was no timetable for when the investigation may be wrapped up.

We've had comments made to our web channel about possible reasons for Harrison's actions...but Sgt. Baylous said there was nothing to those rumors.

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Updated: 08/12/2010 5:00pm

Authorities have identified the man who was killed last night while holding a delivery truck driver at gunpoint in Elizabeth.

Police tell us 45-year-old Joseph Dennis Harrison of Elizabeth kidnapped a u-p-s driver at gun point and forced him to the local state police barracks...where the gunman opened fire.

Sgt. Michael Baylous of the state police says an investigation is continuing, but that Harrison's motive for the shooting hasn't yet been determined.

"It's a sad tragedy for anyone who is living here right now," noted Joe Moravy, who runs a hot dog stand near the Wirt County Courthouse, and who was talking to residents Wednesday about the shooting. "We've had a lot of deaths in the community, and we hope to get this put behind us."

Residents say Harrison had moved to the area recently...but Sgt. Baylous says that hasn't been confirmed by the state police.

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Updated 8/12/2010 @ 11:59 am

The West Virginia State Police has identified the suspect killed in the incident as 45-year-old Joseph Dennis Harrison from the Elizabeth area.

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UPDATE: 8/11/10 7:55PM

Officials have confirmed that the suspect, a 40-50 year old white male, held a delivery truck driver hostage and demanded that he be driven to the Wirt County State Police detachment.

Once they arrived, the suspect fired several rifle shots into the detachment. No one was in the building at the time.

Officials tell us a state police trooper responded to the scene and shot and killed the suspect.

The Foodmart, the Family Dollar and a barber shop in the plaza have been closed, no word yet on when the shops will re-open.

No names of anyone involved or a motive are being released at this time.

The Wirt County Sheriff's Office and the West Virginia State Police are still investigating.
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Updated 8/11/2010 @ 6:21 pm

Unconfirmed reports from eyewitnesses say the driver of a delivery truck was held hostage. The person holding the driver hostage reportedly was shot and killed by a WV State Police officer.

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Updated 8/11/2010 @ 6:05 pm

WTAP-TV's Lauren Weppler tells us a large area outside the Foodmart and the nearby WV State Police Barracks is blocked off at this time.

One person has been shot. We do not know the name or condition of the person who was shot.

Employees at the nearby Foodmart are being kept away from the crime scene.

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WTAP-TV is responding to what we believe is a shooting in Elizabeth.

It's believed the shooting occurred at approximately 5:00 pm. It's believed the shooting happened near the Foodmart grocery store off of WV Route 14.

An employee at Foodmart tells WTAP-TV that, as of 5:30 pm, employees of the store were being kept inside, "even though the shooting was over."

WTAP-TV will pass along additional information as we receive it.


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