Upshur County Chief Deputy recovering after being shot in leg during standoff

WESTON – The chief deputy of the Upshur County Sheriff’s Office was shot in the leg Thursday morning during an active shooter incident on I-79 near Exit 99.

Upshur County Sheriff Virgil Miller confirmed Thursday afternoon that chief deputy Mike Coffman suffered a non-life-threatening injury when he was shot in the right thigh during the encounter.

“Mike just came out of surgery,” Miller said Thursday afternoon. “I’m just leaving [Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital]. They repaired a muscle and some tissue and now he’s in the recovery room. He’s doing good.”

The incident began at about 10:38 a.m. with a vehicle swerving and then blocking the roadway on I-79 northbound between the 99- and 100-mile markers, according to the initial page for law enforcement. The individual was also reportedly firing a weapon.

Miller confirmed that one of the first witnesses to call for help was the assistant director for the Upshur County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Derek Long.

“Derek was coming back from Clarksburg, and he stopped to help because he thought what he saw was a car wreck, but he called 911 and called on the radio and said, ‘A guy has a gun and he’s waving it around and shooting,’” Miller recounted.

According to radio scanner traffic, at 10:47 a.m., officers confirmed hearing one shot fired and said the man was armed with a rifle with a scope and a handgun.

Soon after, Lewis County law enforcement arrived on the scene and reported that traffic was shut down and the subject was in the roadway. Backup was requested, and officers from the Upshur County Sheriff’s Office, as well as several other counties, entered Lewis County shortly thereafter.

“We called Lewis County, and they said, ‘send officers,’ so it was three of us,” Miller said. “Mike was actually down on the south side of the northbound lane of I-79, trying to get people turned around and get them out of there – the people who had driven up on the scene.”

The Lewis County Sheriff’s Department is the lead agency heading up the investigation, but Miller said police did not initially identify a motive.

“He was just stopped on the interstate and had a pistol and a rifle and started shooting people,” he said. “There was no reason we’re aware of yet.”

Miller said Coffman was the only person – officer or civilian – who was shot. The suspect was killed by law enforcement approximately 15 minutes after he shot Coffman, and the active shooter incident ended at about 11:10 a.m.

“There was no negotiating with him,” Miller said. “We tried to talk to him, but it became clear that wasn’t going to work, so we had to take action.”

Lewis County sheriff’s deputies remained on scene Thursday afternoon, so no additional information about the shooter was available.

The northbound lanes of I-79 will be closed for some time due to the investigation, but the southbound lanes are open, according to a previous story.

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