Strange incidents in South Elkins

Two strange, disturbing, violent incidents occurred in South Elkins within the span of a week. The fact that both incidents happened in that area is just a coincidence, but they both apparently share a common cause.

On Jan. 21, a man apparently shot himself during an incident involving an Elkins Police Department SWAT team on Evans Drive.

Ty Garrett Hilderbrand, 35, barricaded himself inside a home and was found dead of an apparent suicide after an hours-long standoff with area law enforcement agencies, police said.

The City of Elkins put a shelter-in-place order in effect during the incident and residents of the First Ward area of South Elkins were asked to not go outside, not answer their doors, and to stay away from windows.

Then on Thursday, a welfare check on a man in the vicinity of Livingston Avenue turned into a dangerous situation as the man allegedly damaged two police cruisers with his vehicle and pulled out a gun when officers tried to arrest him.

On Friday, James Clay Arbogast, 52, was charged with wanton endangerment involving a firearm that was produced during the commission of a felony.

Both incidents were highly dangerous, with the first resulting in a death and the second in a police officer being injured.

The thing both incidents have in common is that both subjects were allegedly suicidal.

Prior to the first incident, the Elkins Police Department had contact with Hilderbrand in relation to a domestic violence call. In the course of this contact and during subsequent communications with law enforcement and community members, Hilderbrand stated that he was armed and that he intended to resist the EPD’s investigation, police said.

Hilderbrand threatened to burn down his house, which is located next to Jennings Randolph Elementary School, and other houses, according to authorities.

In the second incident, court documents say the Buckhannon Police Department had been looking for Arbogast and described him as being suicidal, and said he allegedly left suicide notes at the Walmart store in Buckhannon.

During the past 11 months, with the COVID-19 pandemic raging, all our personal lives have become pressure cookers. All the routines and comforts we were used to have been altered, and some things we took for granted are now gone from our lives, with no guarantee when they will return.

Law enforcement officials have talked about how the pandemic is affecting crime levels. Social workers and health care professionals can also attest to how the changes wrought by COVID-19 have increased stress levels and damaged mental health for many people.

If you or someone you know is suffering from increased stress and/or feeling suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, or the Appalachian Community Health Center at 304-636-3232.

Anyone struggling with addiction or mental health issues can call or text 844-HELP4WV (844-435-7498), a line that is open 24 hours a day.

Please seek help for yourself or your friend or loved one. Don’t think that no one cares. Help is just a phone call away.


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