GREAT CACAPON, W.Va. — Three adult males were shot and killed in what was apparently a property dispute near Great Cacapon, and the gunman seen fleeing the scene in a white pickup truck was still at large as of Monday evening, according to Morgan County Sheriff Vincent Shambaugh.
The shooting occured in a rural area in Morgan County just off of Gamble Lane in an area known as Valley High Timber Farms, according to Deputy Clifton Cobern.
The suspect was identified by police as Erick Shute, 32, and he was still at large as of 10:40 p.m. Monday evening. He was described as a white male with medium build, black hair and was wearing all black, Cobern said.
Authorities were pursuing leads on his whereabouts. Shambaugh said the suspect is believed to have fled to New Jersey. A helicopter was assisting in the search and residents were advised to stay indoors.
The identities of the deceased were being withheld until their next of kin was notified, Cobern said.
It was believed to be the first triple homicide in Morgan County in recent memory.
“I can’t ever remember that happening before, and I’ve been here 12 years,” Cobern said.
Witnesses called Morgan County 911 at approximately 4:46 p.m. Monday for reports of gunshots. When police, that included the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department, West Virginia State Police and Berkeley Spring Police Department, arrived at the scene they found three males that had been shot to death, Cobern said.
In an earlier interview, Shambaugh said the shooting was apparently prompted by a possible property dispute.
“It was a property dispute over some firewood, or something of that nature,” Shambaugh said.
Earlier Monday an official with the Berkeley Springs Volunteer Fire Department said units responded to a report of a shooting with “several victims.” According to the volunteer, medic units were dispatched to the scene but were soon sent back into service.
“You can read between the lines (about what that means),” the VFD member said.
The Morgan County Emergency Communication Center posted an alert on its Facebook page at 6:25 p.m. asking residents to be on the lookout for a white pickup truck with wood sides and possibly a dump bed. The vehicle’s license plate ends with 465, according to the post, and it was last seen in the area of Gamble Road.
Officials ask anyone who sees the vehicle not to approach it, but rather to call 911 immediately.
Cobern said anyone who can provide information about the shooting or Shute’s whereabouts should contact the county Sheriff Department at 304-258-1067.