Former deputy speaks about two WV State Troopers shot and killed one year ago in Clay County
Scanner traffic said, "Suspect is down. Go ahead. The suspect is down. We're also getting reports that another officer is down."
August 28, 2012 is a day law enforcement, first responders, 911 dispatchers, friends and family of two West Virginia State Troopers will never forget. Chris Legg, a former deputy with the Clay County Sheriff's Office said, "It was a BOLO, or a be on the lookout, for a reckless driver on I-79." Legg was one of the first officers to arrive on the scene that night.
Corporal Marshall Bailey and Trooper Eric Workman went on the call of that reckless driver. The troopers located the suspect and had him in custody at the Wallback park and ride, just off the interstate. A wrecker was on it's way to take the suspect's truck. It was a normal night until responders heard the scanner traffic.
Legg said, "Frank, the wrecker driver, got on the radio."
Frank Massey, a driver for King's Towing, had been shot in the arm shortly after arriving on the scene.
Legg said, "He [Massey] said two officers were down."
When emergency crews arrived, they knew Corporal Marshall Bailey was gone. Trooper Eric Workman, on the other hand, was clinging to life. Following the investigation, authorities said Baber was able to obtain Bailey's weapon and shot both the troopers while they were in the front seats of their cruiser.
Baber fled on foot after Massey left the scene.
At that point, Deputy Belt, Deputy Davis, and Deputy Legg from Clay County, and Deputy Unger and Deputy Westfall from Roane County searched for the suspect, Luke Baber.
"He had already taken two of our brothers lives. And we knew he probably wasn't going to stop," Legg said.
They started the search in a Division of Natural Resources Barn just off the road. The deputies split up. Roane County Deputy John Westfall, and Deputy Legg decided to walk back to the command post, searching the culverts and the creek beds along the way. That's when Westfall and Legg spotted Baber, lying in a culvert with a pistol on his chest, according to Legg.
Legg said, "I screamed, show me your hands. I felt Westfall come up beside me. Mr. Baber started shooting. We continued to shoot until he wasn't shooting anymore."
Deputy Westfall had been shot three times. Legg was unharmed. Baber was dead. Legg said at that point, it wasn't about taking a man's life. It was about making the best of an already tragic situation. Legg said, "He had a death wish and we just obliged him. We did what we had to do. He was shooting at us. He killed two of our friends. He shot eight rounds at myself and Deputy Westfall. We had no choice."
Trooper Workman was pronounced dead three days later in the hospital, surrounded by family. He was an organ donor and, as a result, saved the lives of people across the country.
A year later, Legg says he's taking things day by day. He relies on his friends, family, and two children for support. He said, "I would have never dreamed that I would have been put in this situation. Not that we did anything heroic or anything special. We did what we were paid to do and what was right for our friends.
A makeshift memorial is a lasting memory of Corporal Marshall Bailey and Trooper Eric Workman under the Interstate underpass. It is a reminder to everyone who passes by, of the two lives lost on August 28, 2012.
Roane County Deputy, John Westfall, suffered non-life threatening injuries and is still recovering.
Tow truck driver, Frank Massey, returned to work just weeks after his experience. Massey said he considers himself a survivor, not a hero.
The interstate bridge by the scene of the crimes was recently dedicated to the memory of the Corporal Marshall Bailey and Trooper Eric Workman.
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