Virginia State Trooper Chad Dermyer was tragically shot and killed on Thursday afternoon at point-blank range inside the Richmond bus station.
In what appears to be a random shooting, Trooper Dermyer, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, was participating in a counterterrorism training exercise at the Greyhound terminal in downtown Richmond when the suspect pulled out a handgun and opened fire, also wounding two bystanders in the process, who are expected to be okay.
Dermyer had recently transferred to the VSP counterterrorism unit.
Nearby troopers returned fire at the suspect, who was using a legally purchased handgun — a 40-caliber Beretta — that belonged to someone else, the Chicago Tribune reported. The suspect was apparently on his way back to Chicago. He died later that day at a local hospital.
“It’s with an incredibly heavy heart tonight that I announce to you the loss of Police Trooper Chad Dermyer,” said Virginia State Police Superintendent Steven Flaherty at a Thursday evening press conference.
“Dermyer, wearing a dark blue uniform that resembles fatigues, had started to question the man when the assailant pulled out a gun and shot the trooper, police said. Dermyer was not wearing a protective vest,” the Washington Post reported.
Trooper Dermyer died of multiple gunshot wounds after being rushed to the same hospital where the suspect was treated.
A motive for the shooting that occurred after the brief conversation that lasted just 30 seconds between the state trooper and the gunman has yet to be established.
Originally from Jackson, Michigan, the highly respected trooper, 37, who leaves behind a wife and two small children, will be buried on Tuesday after funeral services in Hampton, Virginia. A prayer vigil was held in his memory at the VCU Siegel Center last night. The Richmond-based Virginia State Police Association is accepting donations for the Dermyer family.
According to CBS 6 in Richmond, the suspected shooter is identified as James Brown III, 34, of Aurora, Illinois, who reportedly had a long arrest record and had served time. His aunt, Edith Brown, told the TV station that her nephew “had a lot of anger about the police in the past.He pretty much thought he wanted to be infamous… in terms of having a showdown. He always praised those people who got into shootouts with police.”
In a press release, the Virginia State Police noted that “Brown’s firearm was recovered at the scene, along with 143 rounds of additional ammunition in his possession. Based on his ticket purchase, Brown’s travels by bus began in Raleigh/Durham, N.C., with a final destination to Chicago, Ill. He was in Richmond to change buses. Brown has an extensive criminal record in the state of Illinois, to include numerous illegal drug violations and violent crimes.”
“Earlier this year, Dermyer and another trooper became mini celebrities when they helped rescue a lost dog running through interstate traffic in Hampton. Jeffrey Corbin, the dog’s owner, said Dermyer’s easygoing personality helped reshape Corbin’s view of police,” the New York Daily News recalled. “‘I don’t have a lot of contact with state troopers, but in my mind’s eye they seem to be all business. But [Trooper Dermyer] seemed to be a really warm person…He had a warm persona about him.'”
Dermyer is the same officer that pulled over Tonya Slaton last year in a routine traffic stop. Based on a hunch, Dermyer searched the trunk of the vehicle which turned out to contain the remains of the motorist’s long-missing son. In February, authorities charged Slaton with second-degree murder, CBS News reported.
The Richmond bus station was evacuated in the aftermath of the shooting as multiple police agencies responded to the scene, but reopened on Friday.
Although an investigation is ongoing, Col. Flaherty indicated that the fatal shooting of Trooper Chad Dermyer in the line of duty was unrelated to terrorism.
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