Virginia State police were conducting a counter-drug training exercise at the Greyhound bus station this afternoon when a man in the station pulled a gun on one of the troopers.
A spokesperson for the State Police said part of the training exercise involved approaching civilians and talking with them. Witnesses say the trooper had met a man just inside the entrance of the station and was speaking with him when the shooting began.
“A Virginia State trooper encountered a male subject just inside the entrance way of the Greyhound bus station. While he was talking to this individual, the individual pulled out a gun and shot the trooper. Two troopers standing nearby returned gunfire,” Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said. “The shooting suspect was transported to the VCU medical Center where he died Thursday afternoon.”
Two officers standing nearby the incident returned fire, fatally shooting the gunman, who died after being transported to the hospital, she said. Two civilians were also wounded in the shooting, said Geller, and confirmed the shooter’s gun was recovered at the scene.
Geller also made sure to verify the trooper was shot while in uniform.
“I had my hand on the door handle when I heard two gunshots go off. I didn’t think they were gunshots, but then there were like five, maybe 10 more after that,” witness Brendan Hamilton told WWBT. “I ran out of there. I saw people coming out the front door, the side door, the door to the restaurant, and so I just bailed as fast as I could.”
Sarah Newman, 22, of Nashville, TN, said she was about 30 feet from the front door of the station when the shooting began.
“We heard a lot of yelling inside and we saw a few people run out, then we saw a bunch of police cars come in,” she said. “They brought out the trooper and the other victims … he had blood all over him and his eyes were lifeless.”
The two female bystanders who were shot in the incident remain hospitalized and the suspect has been positively identified, although officials are not releasing his identity until family has been notified.
Virginia State Police have identified the fallen trooper as 37-year-old Trooper Chad Phillip Dermyer. Dermyer was a native of Jackson, Michigan, and joined the force in 2014. He is survived by his wife and two children.
Governor Terry McAuliffe released the following statement: “I have spoken with the Mayor of Richmond and the Superintendent of the Virginia State Police and offered whatever state resources may be necessary to respond to this situation. Our public safety team and I will continue to monitor the situation and support State Police and local authorities in their response and investigation of this incident.”
“I would just never believe this,” Richmond City Councilwoman Reva Trammell told a local news station. “For these troopers to be gunned down like that, and innocent people to be gunned down and shot, and for us to lose a state trooper. … what about their families?”
“It’s unfortunate these are the days we’re living in, where folks want to harm law enforcement,” Richmond Police Chief Alfred Durham said. “We just want our officers to end their shifts and to go home to their families.”
Durham also said law-enforcement officers have become the target of “folks out there with evil intentions.”
Rest in peace, Trooper Dermyer. Our thoughts and prayers are with your family.