Trooper Says Man Taunted Officials



HARRISVILLE - A Ritchie County man accused of killing a state trooper taunted and cursed authorities before surrendering, an officer testified during a preliminary hearing.

Dennis Ferguson, 67, of Pullman was charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Trooper Larry Hacker, 34, of Harrisville. Hacker was killed as he walked up Pullman's driveway to investigate a dispute between neighbors, police said
Magistrate David Haugh on Monday ruled there was enough evidence to send the case to a grand jury.

State police district commander Sgt. D.P. Lake testified Monday that Ferguson cursed at authorities from his hiding place in woods above his home and yelled when he was grazed by a bullet, "I got one of you cops and one of you got me, now that makes us even."

Hacker and Trooper SJ. Verdow went to Ferguson's home about 10 p.m. on April 8 after Ferguson's neighbor, Jack Langford, said Ferguson had blocked the single-lane gravel road to his house with a pickup truck.

Langford said Ferguson threatened to "take someone out with him" if the police came, Verdow testified Monday.
Ritchie County sheriff's deputies also were called as backup "because of the possible volatile situation," the trooper testified.
Verdow said he and Hacker had not called out Ferguson's name as they walked up his driveway but both were wearing uniforms and a light mounted on a shed illuminated the area.

Verdow said Hacker was peering around a storage shed about 75 feet from Ferguson's home when he was shot.
"I heard a gunshot and Trooper Hacker fell," Verdow said. "I yelled Larry's name then I yelled to the deputies that an officer was down."

Ferguson fired at officers more than a dozen times after other officers arrived about 30 minutes later, Verdow testified.
"'They were calling out Mr. Ferguson's name ... 'Dennis Ferguson, come down. What happened tonight was an accident,"' Verdow said.

Those pleas and others were met with gunfire, Lake said. Ferguson was tackled by Lake and another officer when he surrendered to police about two hours after Hacker was shot. "He came to the lighted area," Lake testified. "I was instructing him to lay down and be refused We forcibly put him on the ground and handcuffed him."

Defense attorney Keith White attempted to call Langford as a witness, but Haugh agreed with Prosecutor David Hanlon that the testimony was not related to whether there was enough evidence to send the case to the grand jury.

White later argued before Circuit Judge Joseph Troisi the case should be sent back to Haugh's court became he was not allowed to question Langford. Troisi met a May 11 hearing date on the motion.

"Even if the judge sustains the motion and they have a new preliminary hearing, It will still go to the grand jury," Hanlon said.
Ferguson remains In the Ritchie County Jail without bond. He declined comment after the hearing.