RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A 34-year-old Illinois man fatally shot a Virginia state trooper at a busy bus terminal before the gunman was killed by other troopers, authorities said Friday.
Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller identified the shooter as James Brown III, of Aurora, Ill. Police did not give a motive for the shooting.
Brown shot Trooper Chad P. Dermyer, 37, multiple times Thursday in Richmond before he was killed by two other troopers, police said. Dermyer had been participating with about a dozen other troopers in a training exercise at the bus station when a brief encounter with the gunman quickly turned violent, police said.
Two women also were shot but were expected to recover. Their names haven’t been released, but spokesman Ryan Yarosh with Binghamton University in New York said Friday that one of the women was a member of the school’s track team. The team was headed Thursday to a meet at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, about 50 miles from Richmond.
Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham said law enforcement officers have become the target of “folks out there with evil intentions.”
“It’s unfortunate these are the days we’re living in, where folks want to harm law enforcement,” Durham said. “We just want our officers to end their shifts and to go home to their families.”
Brown had a lengthy criminal record. He was charged with attempted murder in 2001 before pleading guilty to lesser charges and being sentenced to four years in prison.
In 2006, Brown was charged with unlawfully possessing a weapon and body armor as a felon and faced drug charges. Court records show he pleaded guilty to cocaine possession and the other charges were dropped. He was sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison.
In 2012, he pleaded guilty to domestic battery and aggravated battery of a pregnant woman and was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison.
Police say the slain trooper, the father of two children, was a native of Jackson, Michigan, and a former Marine who had served on the force in Jackson and Newport News, Virginia.
Dermyer was known as hard worker and good colleague, said Newport News Police Sgt. Gerald Loose. Dermyer worked for the Newport News Police Department from 2003 to 2007.
“He was a great guy,” Loose said.
Earlier this year, Dermyer and another trooper briefly became mini-celebrities when they rescued a lost dog running through interstate traffic in Hampton. The rescue was highlighted on WVEC TV and received widespread praise on social media.
Dermyer and his partner returned the dog, a miniature schnauzer named Pinta, to its owner Jeffrey Corbin. Corbin said Friday the brief meeting helped change his perception of state troopers.
“I don’t have a lot of contact with state troopers, but in my mind’s eye they seem to be all business,” Corbin said. “But he seemed to be a really warm person. … He had a warm persona about him.”
Dermyer was dressed in a fatigue-style uniform and was not wearing a protective vest when he was shot, Virginia State Police Superintendent Col. Steven Flaherty said.
“We’ve got a lot of evidence to sift through,” Flaherty said. The evidence, he said, included bags that could have belonged to the Brown.
A Greyhound spokeswoman said the station would reopen Friday afternoon. She said there was surveillance video from the station during the time of the shooting but was unsure whether it had been turned over to authorities.
A small army of law enforcement officers in tactical gear and dozens of cruisers and emergency response vehicles flooded to the station, in an area that includes a minor league baseball stadium and a variety of commercial establishments and restaurants.
Najee Wilson, 18, of Newark, New Jersey, said his bus was pulling up to the station when he heard three gunshots and saw people running out of the building.
“We heard a lot of people screaming,” Wilson said. “It definitely was a scary experience.”
City Councilwoman Reva Trammell called it “the saddest day in the city of Richmond.”
“State troopers doing their job and innocent people shot,” she said. “Why? This was a senseless act.”
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe echoed her sentiments in a statement: “This is a loss that impacts us all. It should inspire prayers for the family, friends and fellow troopers who are mourning tonight, and gratitude for those who protect and serve.”
Associated Press writers Larry O’Dell and Steve Szkotak in Richmond and Kasey Jones in Baltimore contributed to this report.
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
PHOTOS: Shooting at Richmond Greyhound bus station
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