Authorities Identify Gunman Who Killed State Trooper

Trooper Chad P. Dermyer was shot during narcotics training at a bus station

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, Illinois. 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, uniformed in dark blue fatigues, had been participating with about a dozen other troopers in a training exercise at the bus station.

Brown was seated in the restaurant by the front entrance of the station, police said. Surveillance video showed him get up and go to his bags near the front entrance. At 2:40 p.m., Dermyer approached Brown, who left his bags, pulled out a .40-caliber, semiautomatic handgun, and fired, police said.

Two plainclothes troopers returned fire, and Brown was taken into custody in the restaurant, police said. He was taken to VCU Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.  

Two women also were shot but were expected to recover. A 21-year-old woman from New York was grazed. A 41-year-old woman suffered non-life-threatening injuries. Both women were just passing through Richmond. It's unclear who fired the shots that struck the women, but one of the women was seated behind Dermyer, state police said. 

One of the women was a member of Binghamton University's track team in New York, school spokesman Ryan Yarosh said. The team was headed Thursday to a meet at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, about 50 miles from Richmond. 

Brown had a criminal record, including gun violence, state police said. The handgun he used was purchased legally by someone else 13 months ago, but police have not yet traced.

Police also found 143 rounds of unspent ammunition in Brown's bags, state police said. There were no warrants out for Brown's arrest, who was headed from Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina, to Chicago and was changing buses in 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,'' he said. "We just want our officers to end their shifts and to go home to their families.''

Police said the slain trooper, the father of two children, was a native of Jackson, Michigan, and a former Marine who had served on the police force in Jackson and Newport News, Virginia.

Dermyer was known as a 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 not wearing a protective vest when he was shot, said Virginia State Police Superintendent Col. Steven Flaherty. Vests are encouraged but not mandated by state police.

"We've got a lot of evidence to sift through,'' Flaherty said.

A Greyhound spokeswoman said the station would reopen Friday afternoon. She said there was surveillance video from the station during the time of the incident 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."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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