Retired officer named honoree

BUCKHANNON — The City of Buckhannon hosted Webb Grubb Day Wednesday afternoon, where retired Lt. Keith Rowan was presented as the second Wilbert “Webb” Grubb honoree.

The dedication is in memory and honor of Grubb, a city police officer who died in the line of duty on the evening of April 21, 1940.

Grubb, 46, was called to a home on Camden Avenue in response to a reported attempted rape. As the officer approached the front door of the suspect’s house, Byzantine Hartman fired a shotgun blast through the door, striking Grubb in the left shoulder. While Grubb was lying on his back, Hartman fired again at point-black range, shooting him in the head.

During Wednesday’s remembrance, members of Grubb’s family were present and thanked city officials for continuing to honor Grubb’s legacy. The family presented the Buckhannon Police Department with Grubb’s service revolver.

Buckhannon Police Department Police Chief Matt Gregory reflected upon recipient Rowan’s time at the police force.

“When I first started, Keith had already been around for several years. As a new officer I would ride along with Keith going on a wide variety of calls,” Gregory said. “I found his wit and his humor would oftentimes break up the monotony of long shifts or throughout difficult calls.”

He continued, “What I also found remarkable was Keith’s ability to as he would say, ‘Not get into anything tonight,’ and then literally 10 minutes later have a car pulled over making a DUI arrest.”

One night on the job nearly ended in tragedy, however. In the early morning hours of May 18, 2003, Rowan sustained multiple gunshot wounds to the face, neck, ear and arm from Scott Ennis.

“I heard him call over the radio that shots have been fired,” recalled Gregory. “And then, only moments later as the suspect fled back into town, I heard Keith transmit that he had been shot, and that he was driving himself to the hospital.”

As his heart sank, Gregory said, “All I could think about was Keith’s well-being. I was worried about my friend.”

Gregory said Rowan made a quick recovery as he was back on the job in a matter of a week or so.

Rowan thanked the city, the Buckhannon Police force and Grubb’s family for the recognition.

Soon the city will install a permanent bench along Wilbert Grubb Lane beside the Public Safety Complex bearing the inscription and legend: “Dedicated in honor and memory of Wilbert H. ‘Webb’ Grubb and further in lasting tribute to those who have contributed to the excellence of our Buckhannon-Upshur law enforcement community.”