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Victim in good condition

December 6, 2012
By Anthony Gaynor - Staff Writer ( , The Inter-Mountain

A woman shot multiple times by her ex-husband - who was later shot and killed in a standoff with police - was listed in good condition one day after the tragic events shook the small community of Coalton.

Police said Elizabeth Smith, 49, of Coalton, was shot multiple times Tuesday afternoon, but was able to drive herself about 5 miles from the home of her ex-husband to her mother's residence in Coalton and called 911. Baylous said it is not yet known why Smith was at Zirkle's home.

The shooting suspect, Jeffrey L. Zirkle, 53, was shot and killed by officers following a standoff at his Jimtown home Tuesday evening, West Virginia State Police 1st Sgt. M.T. Baylous said Wednesday.

"(The shooting of Smith) happened at Mr. Zirkle's residence along (W.Va.) 151 near Jimtown," Baylous said. "We got the (initial) call around 1:56 p.m. that she was shot multiple times while she was in her vehicle."

Baylous said it is not yet known why Smith was at Zirkle's home.

Reports at the scene of the Coalton residence stated that Zirkle may have followed Smith to Coalton after the shooting, but Baylous said, "I don't believe that to be the case."

The West Virginia State Police and Randolph County Sheriff's Department first responded to the Coalton residence after the 911 call. The Coalton Volunteer Fire Department set up a landing zone for a Life Flight helicopter in the field across from Coalton Elementary School. Smith was transported to the landing zone by the Randolph County Emergency Squad.

Baylous said troopers on the scene were notified that Zirkle was at his residence, where the shooting occurred, and when officers arrived at Zirkle's home the standoff ensued.

"The troopers responded and established lines of communications," Baylous said. "Family members also tried to talk him out of the house."

Baylous said Zirkle may have been "impaired." When asked to be more specific, Baylous said Zirkle could have been under the influence of alcohol, drugs or a combination of both.

"We tried to talk him into exiting the residence peacefully," he said. "Around 5:45 p.m., he exited the house with a weapon and posed an immediate threat. A trooper had to end the threat and fired his weapon."

Baylous could not confirm what type of weapon was used in the initial shooting, but did say Zirkle exited the home with a rifle in his hand.

"We are conducting a follow-up investigation and once it is complete, a report will be filed with the prosecuting attorney," he said.

Smith was listed in good condition Wednesday at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown. She had been listed in critical condition following the shooting.

Coalton Elementary School, which is near Smith's mother's residence in Coalton, was placed on lockdown around 2:10 p.m. Tuesday and remained on lockdown until around 3:15 p.m., when local law enforcement said it was safe to release the students.



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