BUCKHANNON — A routine day at the Buckhannon Manor quickly escalated for the housing facility’s manager.
Mary Shoulders was leaving for the day Monday shortly after 6 p.m. when a resident, Phillip Suder, 73, yelled out his second-floor window in the parking lot and said he had something for her, according to Buckhannon Police Chief Matt Gregory.
“At that point in time, he displayed a gun, which we later found out to be a rifle,” Gregory said. “When he displayed the gun at Mary, he then said he was going to kill her. She got away from his window, went back in the building and called the police.”
Patrolman First Class Joshua Wilson arrived at Buckhannon Manor at 6:23 p.m., and the Upshur County Sheriff’s Department and West Virginia State Police provided backup.
Cpl. C.J. Day and Deputy Tyler Chidester were also on scene, along with Trooper First Class V.J. Pyles and Sgt. J.L. Clay. Sheriff David Coffman, Chief Deputy Mike Kelley and Cpl. Theron Caynor responded to the call as well.
At the time of the initial call, Gregory was in city hall while candidates for a vacant police officer position were taking the written Police Civil Service Commission test.
“The mayor comes in and asked if I knew about it,” Gregory said. “That’s when I called the Comm Center and they advised me of the initial response.”
Gregory left city hall and responded the short distance away to the housing complex on Florida Street.
“We secured the building,” he said.
At that point, Gregory, Wilson, Kelley, Coffman and Caynor went to Suder’s room to try to talk to Suder.
“We didn’t have any other way of communicating with him,” the chief said, adding that they could not find where Suder had a phone.
The officers made their way down the hallway on the second floor to Suder’s room, 214.
After knocking on the door, it wasn’t very long afterwards that Suder came out peacefully, according to the police chief.
“We were fortunate that he came out of his room without incident and we took him into custody,” Gregory said. “We saw the rifle laying on the window sill and there was some other ammunition there.”
Gregory said the rifle was uncased.
Suder was arrested for brandishing a deadly weapon and assault, both misdemeanors, and taken to Tygart Valley Regional Jail.
Magistrate Mike Coffman set bond at $125,000.
Gregory said the only reason Suder gave officers for threatening the manager was that “he was angry at Mary.”
Gregory expressed appreciation for the cooperation between the various agencies who responded and the backup provided to the Buckhannon Police Department.
“The goal was to resolve the situation peacefully and to get the gun away and resolve peacefully without anyone getting hurt,” he said. “Working together allowed that to occur.”
During the incident, residents who were returning back to the manor were kept outside. However, the building was not evacuated.
Shoulders said Tuesday morning that none of her tenants were in danger.
“I was the target,” she said.
She also praised the law enforcement response.
“They were amazing,” she said. “I can’t say enough about them. They protected me. They went above and beyond. I want to thank them all.”
If convicted of brandishing a deadly weapon, Suder faces confinement in jail for not less than 90 days nor more than one year and/or a fine of not less than $50 nor more than $1,000.
Assault carries confinement in jail for not more than six days and/or fined not more than $100.
Suder has requested a bond reduction.
Coffman ordered Suder to have no contact with Shoulders and not to be at Buckhannon Manor.