By GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
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One of two suspects in a local break-in was shot and wounded Monday when they encountered the property owner and confronted him.
Mercer County 911 received a call at approximately 1 p.m. that a landowner was holding two men that had broken into buildings on his property along Wright’s Mountain Road near Rock. Deputy W.E. Rose and Deputy E.P. Parks of the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department soon arrived and arrested Henry H. Wright, 60, of Rock as he fled along Wright’s Mountain Road, said Detective L.B. Murphy.
Rose and Parks went up the hill and arrested Charles A. Sparks, 36, of Rock. Sparks had been shot once by the property owner. The Princeton Rescue Squad transported Sparks to Princeton Community Hospital for an evaluation. He was later transferred to a Charleston hospital. Murphy said the injury, which was in one of his “upper extremities,” did not appear to be life threatening.
Murphy declined to identify the property owner, who is not facing charges at this time. The owner did not wish to comment. As the deputies left the scene, Murphy described the incident.
“What happened was these two individuals drove up on this private farm — it has a long driveway — and it did have signs,” he said. “They went across both gates. A cable gate was ripped down along with some fencing where they broke into some external buildings and stole what scrap and other articles of value they could find.”
The property owner encountered the two men when he started driving up to his farm. They were in a pick-up truck and coming down the narrow, one-lane driveway.
“He told them to stop, shut off the vehicle and get out. At which time, they did turn vehicle off and stepped out, and started approaching the property owner in what we believe to be a threatening manner. He told them to stop, which they refused, and he retrieved a handgun from his person,” Murphy said.
Murphy said the owner, who he described an elderly man who is handicapped, showed both men the gun.
“When they saw the handgun, they at that time stopped and he ordered them to get on the ground. One gentleman did get down on his knees; however, the other person continued to refuse his directions to stop and continued to approach him in a threatening manner where he was afraid for his safety.”
Sparks then turned, went back to the pick-up truck, and reached into its bed, Murphy said. There were several objects in the vehicle that could have been used as a weapon.
“At which time, the property owner became more in fear for his safety and he fired, from what we gather right now, approximately one to two rounds. He did strike the individual,” Murphy said.
Sparks and Wright are facing felony charges including breaking and entry, larceny, and conspiracy, Murphy said. An assault charge is also possible. Sparks is also wanted as a fugitive in Virginia. Murphy did not know the charge or charges Sparks was facing in that state.
Wright was being held Monday evening at the Bluefield City Jail.
Troopers with the West Virginia State Police detachment near Princeton were also at the scene Monday.
— Contact Greg Jordan at email@example.com