Four people are confirmed dead after a shooting at about 4:30 a.m. July 26 in the vicinity of 743 Locust Avenue, Clarksburg, according to Harrison County Prosecuting Attorney Joe Shaffer. The shooting included two innocent bystanders, identified as Fred, 70, and Freddy Swiger, 47, a father and son newspaper delivery team with more than 30 years at the Exponent Telegram.
"They delivered papers and were on their paper route at the time. There is no indication that either of the Mr. Swigers had anything to do with any transaction that may have taken place inside the house which lead to the shooting," Shaffer said.
The two other victims have been identified as Todd Amos, 29, and Christopher Hart, 27, both of Harrison County, according to Shaffer. Three of the victims died at the scene on Locust Avenue, while Hart died at United Hospital Center in Bridgeport from a gunshot wound to his head. Shaffer said Amos had an extensive criminal record including DUI, robbery, possession of a controlled substance and larceny.
"Mr. Hart was discovered by his mother. His mother heard gunshots and went to his home. She did not see the bodies lying in the street. She did see Mr. Amos at the house, she believed Mr. Amos was sleeping. She discovered that her son was wounded and her son was able to articulate to his mother who he believed the individual responsible for the shooting was," Shaffer said.
Shaffer said the alleged shooter has been identified as Sidney Muller, 27 of Harrison County. Muller was arrested Friday morning by the Marion County Sheriff's Department for driving on a suspended license. Muller has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder and is being held in the North Central Regional Jail. Shaffer also said it is believed Muller was the only shooter. Muller's criminal past includes only a DUI, Shaffer said. Muller has ties to Texas and it's unknown how long he's been in West Virginia. It also appeared that Muller was a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, but Shaffer wasn't certain if he was still active.
Muller went to Hart's house on Locust Avenue to collect a $10,000 drug debt owed to him by Hart and Amos, according to a criminal complaint. Muller entered the home, went to the bedroom where he found Amos in the house with Hart. Muller confronted both men about the debt, when an argument ensued. Muller told Clarksburg Police that Hart displayed a handgun, Muller said he knocked the gun from his hand and retrieved it from the floor. The complaint alleges that Muller shot Hart in the right side of his head, then shot Amos in the face twice. When Muller was leaving the house, he encountered Freddie and Fred Swiger, and fatally shot both of the men. Muller provided a statement to police admitting his involvement with drug transactions between Hart and Amos, along with admitting to shooting all four victims, according to a criminal complaint.
Muller is charged with first degree murder at the state level, a crime that has a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole, according to U.S. District Attorney of northern West Virginia William J. Ihlenfeld. If charged federally, Muller could face the death penalty if the U.S. Attorney's Office sought out that punishment. While Muller has not been charged federally yet, Ihlenfeld said the possibility can't be ruled out. Ihlenfeld could not comment on what type of evidence is necessary to make such charges.
Ihlenfeld said it is not uncommon for prosecutors to defer charges to another office, and said sometimes federal charges are dropped if a state charge comes with a stronger case, and vice versa. However, Ihlenfeld said his office is working with local and state agencies in this case. Ihlenfeld could not comment on whether or not additional charges and arrests were expected in this case.
The house on Locust Avenue in Clarksburg was previously investigated by the greater Harrison County Violent Crimes and Drug Task Force, according to U.S. District Attorney of northern West Virginia William J. Ihlenfeld.
"In early 2013, the greater Harrison Violent Crimes and Drug Task Force was aware of some drug activity at that location. It did have a confidential informant who was able to go into that house and make a controlled buy. However, the quality of the buy was not something that allowed us to prosecute it. It was the initial step in an investigation that needed a lot more evidence before it could be prosecuted. That made steps to gather further evidence for that investigation without success," Ihlenfeld said, "Basically, what happened was after the initial buy made in January that wasn't enough to prosecute, the activity there basically dried up as far as the task force was able to determine."
Ihlenfeld said that the person investigated in January was not Muller.
Clarksburg Police Chief Lt. Robert Hilliard said there will be increased patrols in the Locust Avenue area to help put the community at ease.
Exponent-Telegram President Brian Jarvis issued a statement Friday morning: "I only had the pleasure of knowing Fred and Freddy for the past year-and-a-half since I took over ownership of The Exponent-Telegram. They were extremely nice, loyal and cared very deeply about their customers. Further, their customers cared very deeply about them from the calls already this morning. They built a connection with people that was unique and special in every regard.
Although they were independent contractors, like many of our long-time carriers, they became part of The Exponent-Telegram family. We respect them and each of our carriers for getting the products we create to our customers in the middle of the night in rain, snow and sleet. Fred and Freddy exemplified this seven days a week in their over 30 years of service. We hope justice will be served as soon as possible for this heinous and senseless act."
Mourners have set up a makeshift memorial for Fred and Freddy Swiger at the scene of Friday's shooting. They've placed flowers, letters, and newspapers on the sidewalk on Locust Avenue.
Relatives of one of the men will hold a balloon release July 30 outside of the home where he was killed. They said they'll release different colored balloons for each of the four victims. The balloon release will start at 7 p.m. outside of the home on Locust Avenue in Clarksburg.
Citizens United for Clarksburg will host a vigil Thursday evening at 7 p.m. in downtown Clarksburg. Planning started on the group's Facebook page. A funeral service for the Swigers will be Friday at 11 a.m. at the Davis-Weaver Funeral Home in Clarksburg.
A fund has been set up at a local bank to help buy headstones for Fred and Freddy Swiger. If you'd like to donate, a fund has been set up at Wes Banco Bank. You can donate at any branch.
At least three people are dead after a shooting in Clarksburg early Friday morning.
The shooting occurred on Locust Avenue around 4:30 a.m., according to 911 records.
At the scene, two people were dead in the street and a third person died inside a home, according to Clarksburg Police.
Neighbors said a fourth person was also shot and transported from the scene, but police could not comment on that as of Friday morning.
At 7:30 a.m., Clarksburg police said no arrests had been made in connection with the shooting to their knowledge, but that the Harrison and Marion County Sheriff's Departments were helping them look for a suspect.
Police declined to give any further details on the suspect, or a possible motive.
We're working to get more information for you, so stay with 12 News for updates.