Trooper Dies From Gunshot
Staff Writer

PULLMAN - A State Police Trooper died early Friday from gunshot wounds received in an ambush by an elderly Ritchie County man embroiled in a squabble with neighbors.

Tpr. Larry G. Hacker died at Camden-Clark Memorial Hospital, having been flown there by helicopter from the scene in the White Oak Community in rural Ritchie County. He had arrived at the hospital at 12:10 am.  Shortly after 1 a.m. Cpl. W.P. Sutton at State Police headquarters in South Charleston confirmed that Hacker had died.

Neighbors said Dennis Ferguson allegedly ambushed the Trooper near the patrol car and then refused to allow emergency medical personnel near him to render treatment. Hacker was flown from the Pullman School property at about 11:30 p.m. after the suspect apparently fled the scene.

State Police said they had apprehended a suspect in the shooting at about midnight, but did not release his name. The suspect was apprehended in a wooded area near the shooting scene. Sgt. CE. Miles Jr. of the Parkersburg State Police Detachment said the suspect had held officers at bay with gunfire prior to his being apprehended.

Neighbors reported hearing gunshots long after the Trooper was wounded.

At 12:25 a.m. State Police arrived at W.Va. 74 with a man in custody. He appeared to be bleeding from a cut over his right eye. Police helped him walk to a Pennsboro EMS ambulance where was placed on a stretcher to be transported to St. Joseph's Hospital in Parkersburg.

Neighbor Bernard Richards identified the man in custody as Ferguson and described him as a World War II veteran. 

"He was friendly to me," Richards said of the frail, balding Ferguson. "Most people didn't like him very well. They considered him to be crazy." Some residents of the community said Ferguson had threatened neighbors in the past and had been in trouble with the law. Ferguson had blocked a county road in front of his house with his truck Thursday night and refused to allow his neighbor, Jack Langford, to pass.

Langford said he returned to his parent's house and called the State Police. Hacker responded to the call. "I couldn't get (to my house), so I followed the Police back up the mad," Langford told The Parkersburg News. "I stopped to talk to the deputy sheriff and right after that is when the shooting occurred.

"When they (the Police) pulled up next to the house one of the Troopers was shot," Langford said. "I got down behind some stuff because I didn't know where the shooting was coming from."

Neighbors said Ferguson owned a tract of land in the neighborhood where Langford and his father own farms. One neighbor said Ferguson had assaulted the elder Langford several years ago and the neighborhood dispute had been ongoing for many years.

Langford would not comment on why he thought Ferguson blocked the road Thursday night and would not comment on the disagreements between his family and Ferguson. Langford had gone to his father's farm to feed livestock and when he came back down the road Ferguson had the road blocked, he said.

The shooting occurred on County Road 9/9, Upper White Oak Road, near Pullman. The area is about 15 minutes south of Harrisville just off W.Va. 74 South.

About two dozen Police officers, including State Policemen, county officers and city officers from as far away as Salem converged on the scene late Thursday.

Authorities said medical airlift personnel originally had planned to; take Hacker to Charleston Area Medical Center, but opted for the closer facility in Parkersburg because of the Trooper's critical condition.

Hacker is a Gilmer County native who had previously served the Ritchie County detachment and recently returned there from a brief assignment in the St. Marys post.