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 the 600 block of N. May St. in 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.
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.
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 grew up in Michigan and kept in touch with friends there, visiting last summer, The Jackson Citizen Patriot (http://bit.ly/1q97IK0 ) reported. Matt Miller of Jackson, about 80 miles west of Detroit, said he played soccer with Dermyer since they were children. He described Dermyer as a good guy and a strong athlete.
Dermyer was dressed in a fatigue-style uniform and was not wearing a protective vest when he was shot, said Virginia State Police Superintendent Col. Steven Flaherty.
“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 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.”
Wilson, who was en route to Atlanta, was among about 200 travelers waiting to board buses at a staging area set up a few blocks from the bus station after the shooting.
Leigha Schilling, who was between stops on her bus trip from New York to South Carolina, said she was smoking a cigarette outside the station. She went back inside briefly and saw people lying on the ground and what appeared to be blood on the floor. A security guard ordered her to get on the floor, but she ran back outside, and then heard several shots, she said.
“I was terrified,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”
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.”
About 50 officers from the Richmond Police Department went to the bus station to assist state police, Chief Alfred Durham said.
He 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.”
Greyhound issued a statement Thursday afternoon saying the Richmond bus station would be closed “until further notice.”