WESTON — An unidentified man is dead after he allegedly completed an armed robbery at Christine’s Hot Spot Lounge in Weston Friday morning, then led police on a high-speed chase through Lewis County before he wrecked and fled on foot. The suspect reportedly pointed a gun at another man on a riding lawnmower nearby, then turned the weapon on law enforcement before he was fatally shot.
The incident began around 10 a.m. and concluded when the suspect was killed after he reportedly threatened law enforcement with a gun in a Berlin yard shortly after 11 a.m. According to Weston City Police Officer Mike Posey, the suspect fled the Hot Spot in a gray dually truck after the robbery, went down Route 19, across Hacker’s Creek, and back up Berlin Road before he ran off the roadway at the intersection of McGuire Park Road while officers were in pursuit. The man reportedly rammed into Posey’s cruiser at the beginning of the high-speed chase near Bob’s Auto, but then kept going until he eventually wrecked in Berlin and fled on foot.
Chief Deputy Mike Coffman said Lewis County law enforcement requested assistance from Upshur County Officers, who were staged at the county line in two locations ready to deploy stop sticks if the suspect came their way. Upshur County Deputies also helped provide traffic control and assisted with the investigation.
Lewis County Sheriff Dave Gosa reported that Jane Lew Fire Department was notified of the pursuit, and they were able to block the road to prevent the suspect from plowing through the Fireman’s Festival and Craft Show that was underway. “We are blessed that he didn’t wreck up there and get into that crowd,” Gosa expressed. Chief Cayton reportedly deployed the stop sticks across the road in front of the pursuit, which flattened the truck’s front tires and caused the man to wreck before he got out and ran from law enforcement.
According to Sheriff Gosa, the man was estimated to be in his 50s and the preliminary investigation suggested he was an oil field worker from the Morgantown area who had been fired approximately a week ago. The Chevy Silverado truck he was driving had an Oklahoma license plate, but his identity had not been released yet as of press time.
An eyewitness who wished to remain anonymous told The Record Delta, “Two State Troopers went up Berlin Road and a little later, I came back out and heard the sirens coming. I was watching and right up here at the corner, a gray pickup crashed with the Troopers right behind him. He got out of the truck and came running this direction. He started coming down this way and I yelled at my sister. I locked the front door and the back door, and was watching out the window. He came and ran across our back yard and across the little bridge.”
The suspect reportedly went over to the neighbor’s house across the creek where a man was mowing on a riding lawnmower. “The guy ran up to him and it appeared he pointed a gun at him,” the witness described, and added that three police officers were following right behind him. “When they got up to him, he turned the gun towards them, and they let loose on him,” the witness recounted.
The witness said “a bunch” of shots were fired, then another neighbor who reportedly works for an ambulance service came out and started CPR immediately. “He was gone,” the man said, as he reported, “Nobody could survive that.”
The daughter of the 87-year-old woman whose yard the suspect ran through added that she heard the gunshots from Glady Fork while she was outside, then quickly came over to her mother’s home when she heard what occurred. “Times are changing and its scary,” she lamented.
The woman working at Christine’s Hot Spot when the robbery occurred had already gone home for the day when The Record Delta went to investigate. The Hot Spot closed early Friday, and their security company was on site to review surveillance footage, but could not comment about the robbery. According to Sheriff Gosa, the suspect got away with approximately $4,000 in cash, which was fully recovered.
Multiple agencies responded to the investigation led by the Weston Detachment of the West Virginia State Police, including the Lewis County Sheriff’s Department, Weston City Police, Buckhannon Detachment of the West Virginia State Police, WV DNR Police, Upshur County Sheriff’s Department, and ATF agents.
No officers or bystanders were injured during the chase or final confrontation with the suspect, although many residents of the area were visibly shaken up over the incident that occurred in their normally peaceful neighborhood.