EPD Releases Information About South Elkins Barricade Incident
Elkins, W. Va., January 22, 2021: Last night’s hours-long standoff at a residence on Evans Drive in South Elkins developed after an Elkins Police Department (EPD) SWAT team attempted to serve a felony warrant on an individual suspected of making terroristic threats, said Elkins Police Department Chief Travis Bennett. After hours of negotiation attempts proved fruitless, SWAT officers made entry and discovered the building’s lone occupant dead of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound. EPD is not confirming the decedent’s name at this point in the investigation.
“Based on intelligence and prior communications with this individual, the decision was made to follow our high-risk warrant service protocol,” said Bennett. “That includes use of our SWAT officers and the department’s MRAP vehicle, as well as a public notice to shelter in place and the evacuation of nearby residences as a precaution.”
When the operation commenced at around 6:30 p.m., EPD had ample grounds for believing that the individual named in the warrant was in possession of numerous firearms and that any arrest attempt might turn violent.
“The suspect had made it known that he was armed and ready to confront law enforcement officers with deadly force and had prepared his residence for a standoff,” said Bennett. “Once we were on scene and had evacuated the neighboring residences, we found that the suspect had indeed barricaded himself inside the house and was refusing to come out.”
Over the next several hours, officers made numerous attempts to negotiate with the individual barricaded inside the residence. Officers also attempted to force the suspect outside through the use of non-lethal chemical irritants. These attempts were met with further threats by the suspect to come outside shooting at officers and to shoot any officers who tried to come inside.
Finally, around 10:30 p.m., SWAT officers deployed flash-bang grenades and additional chemical-irritant rounds, then entered the residence.
“Upon entering, my officers observed that the suspect had installed heavy barricades and other fortifications in the house,” said Bennett. “They found the suspect deceased with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.”
Bennett confirmed that this was the only shot fired in the course of this incident; no shots were fired by or at law enforcement officers.
“I’m really proud of the skill and professionalism shown by all of the officers and other personnel who helped out,” he said. “I’m grateful for the assistance of the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office, the West Virginia State Police, the Elkins Fire Department, and Randolph County EMS.”
This is an ongoing investigation, so EPD is not able to release more information at this time.