RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – A gunman shot and killed Virginia state trooper Thursday at a busy bus terminal in the capital city of Richmond before he was shot dead by two other troopers, police said. Two civilians were hurt, though it was not clear if they had been shot.
Trooper Chad Dermyer, 37, died at the VCU Medical Center. 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, said Superintendent W. Steven Flaherty.
Virginia State Police said Dermyer approached a man just inside the front doors of the bus station. During the course of talking with the man, the man pulled out a handgun and shot Dermyer multiple times. As the man continued firing his weapon, two state troopers, who were nearby, returned fire. The male suspect then moved into the terminal’s restaurant.
State police said the shooter continued to be combative as officers took him into custody and EMS crews tried to render aid to him. He was transported to VCU Medical Center, where he died later Thursday afternoon.
Flaherty said investigators don’t know what sparked the shooting.
The two civilians were expected to survive. Initially, State Police had said in a news release that two troopers were taken to a hospital, but a spokesperson later told reporters that only Dermyer had been hurt.
Broadcast images showed numerous police cars and heavily armed officers at the scene.
Leigha Schilling, who was between stops on her bus trip from New York to South Carolina, told The Associated Press that she was smoking a cigarette outside the station Thursday when she heard banging. 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 and she ran back outside, where she heard several shots, she said.
“I was terrified,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”
Charles Leazott works in the marketing department at Electrical Equipment Company, across the street from the bus station. “I glanced out my office window and saw, no exaggeration, what looked to me to be every police officer in the city of Richmond,” he told the AP.
Leazott said emergency teams “ran in with stretchers and, in what seemed like an amazingly short period of time, they were coming back out with people on the stretchers.”
Vincent Smith was working next door to the Greyhound station when he heard sirens and saw police cars buzzing by.
“The police units just poured in like a river,” said Smith, who works at the U-Haul Moving and Storage facility. “I went to the end of the lot and there must have been 30 units just a block away.”
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Smith said he saw police officers carrying shields and assault weapons. An officer came by and ordered him and his co-workers to stay inside and lock the doors until they’re told it was safe again. By late afternoon, he said he had been locked inside for about an hour and a half.
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.”
The Greyhound Bus Station is located west of the city’s downtown area, across from Richmond’s minor league baseball stadium and within a former industrial area. It is located on a main thoroughfare connecting a residential district to the stadium and nearby restaurants.
Greyhound issued a statement saying that the Richmond, Virginia, station was “closed until further notice.”
City officials released the following statement:
Mayor Jones has been fully briefed on the shooting incident on the Boulevard at the Greyhound Bus Station. He is in constant contact with Richmond Police Chief Al Durham. The matter is under the jurisdiction of the Virginia State Police and Richmond Police officials are fully engaged and acting in a supporting role at this time.
Mayor Jones has also made contact with Governor Terry McAuliffe and the City and State are working collaboratively to respond to this incident.
The Mayor is asking citizens to avoid the impacted area to allow law enforcement and emergency responders to function as efficiently as possible in responding to this incident and stabilizing the scene.
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