Shooter still on loose; victim is recovering

Law enforcement officials from all over Randolph County continue to search for leads in connection with a brutal shooting Friday night at the Rich gas station along the Beverly Five-lane in Elkins.

According to reports, a white male wearing dark-colored pants, a dark-colored jacket and a hooded sweatshirt approached the gas station shortly after 11 p.m. Friday, firing several shots at clerk Shawn Townsend.

Townsend, of Elkins, was initially transported to Davis Memorial Hospital, but was later sent to Ruby Memorial in Morgantown. After undergoing a pair of surgeries to mend facial injuries. Townsend is listed in good condition.

Randolph County Sheriff Mark Brady said he was unsure if Townsend’s injuries were caused by flying glass, a bullet or bullet fragments. Brady said he was responsive and talking at the time first responders arrived at the scene Friday night. Good Samaritans made the initial call reporting the shooting.

“The last time anybody spoke to the victim’s family, he had just gotten out of surgery,” Brady said. “He is doing OK, but has a possible lesion on one of his eyes.”

Law enforcement officials have yet to ascertain if a robbery occurred prior to the shooting, but the same location was robbed last week.

Brady said his department has not developed a suspect, but that he and his deputies, as well as the Elkins Police Department and the West Virginia State Police, are doing everything they can to break the case.

“We are still out working leads,” Brady said Sunday on his way back from paying his respects to slain Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum. “Tips came in yesterday and we are following up on each one of those.”

Brady said the shooter is between 5-foot-6 and 5-foot-9 inches tall, weighing 135 to 150 pounds. Following the incident, the shooter fled the scene in the direction of Glenmore Loop Road.

Law enforcement officials and crime scene investigators were at the scene until Saturday afternoon, then spent the remainder of the weekend canvassing the area near the shooting. Deputies and other officers talked with residents and business owners to garner leads in the case.

Many residents either declined to comment entirely, or refused to give their names when interviewed by The Inter-Mountain.

“This is Elkins,” one resident who declined to be identified by name said. “Things like this are not supposed to happen. We live in a small town. No one just goes up to a gas station and starts shooting for no good reason.”

Another resident in the Glenmore Loop Road area said, “I haven’t gotten much rest since this happened, and I won’t until this guy is caught. He’s out there. If he was on foot, he hasn’t gone too far. He’s probably still very close by. I’ll definitely lock my doors tonight and keep a gun close by.”

Brady said the sheriff’s department currently is reviewing video footage obtained from the gas station’s security system. The Rich station reopened Sunday.

“Anytime that someone is capable of shooting someone like this, people should be cautious,” Brady said. “We still are searching for the suspect. I think this is an isolated incident to this store.”

“I would urge residents to stay vigilant,” Brady added. “Always be aware of your surroundings, and if you see something, please contact us immediately.”

Anyone with information about the shooting should contact the Randolph County Sheriff’s Department through the 911 center. For anonymous tips, residents can call the sheriff’s department tip line at 304-636-TIPS.