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Drugs made shooter 'different person'

For our story about the shooting investigation, click here. For our story about Cpl. Marshall Bailey and Trooper Eric Workman, click here.  

 

OAK HILL, W.Va. -- A prescription pill problem made an Oak Hill man a different person to his friends and family and put him on the wrong side of the law a few times over the years.

Luke Silas Baber's pill problem got the best of him, a relative said, and possibly fueled him to shoot and kill State Police Cpl. Marshall Lee Bailey and critically injure Trooper Eric Michael Workman Tuesday night during a traffic stop in an area along the Clay and Roane County borders.

Baber, 22, eventually shot and wounded tow truck driver William Frank Massey and Roane County Sheriff's Deputy John Westfall before the night was over. He was then killed in a hail of return gunfire during a shootout with four deputies from Roane and Clay counties.

Janet Baber, his aunt, said her family was devastated by Luke's actions and are praying for those he injured.

"We are just very sad for those policemen and for their families -- those innocent people," she said.

She said her family reached out to State Police after the shooting to offer condolences and thank them for their service.

Luke, she said, "just had problems and it got the best of him."

In December 2009, Fayette County Sheriff's deputies arrested Baber after he threatened his parents with what turned out to be a BB gun. During that incident, Baber told deputies he pulled the gun in an attempt to get officers to kill him, according to a criminal complaint filed in Fayette County Magistrate Court.

According to the complaint, Baber's mother called 911 and said her son was threatening both of his parents. When deputies arrived, they found Baber being restrained by his father on the floor, with the BB gun under him.

Baber would not cooperate with deputies and refused to let them put handcuffs on him, which resulted in a struggle, according to the complaint.

Once Baber was in custody, he "stated he pulled the gun [which was determined to be a BB pistol] in [an] attempt to get law enforcement to kill him," Deputy D.S. Wysong wrote in the complaint.

Deputies also found a metal bottle with three pills attached to Baber's belt loop. Baber admitted the pills were the prescription drug Xanax, and that he didn't have a prescription for the pills, according to the complaint.

In January he was arrested again and charged with one count of felony uttering. That charge was dismissed in May after no victim showed up to Fayette County Magistrate Court.

Janet Baber said her family would remember Luke as a kind, loving person and not the person he became after abusing drugs.

Laura, a close friend who did not give her last name to spare herself from possible harassment, said he had the biggest heart and was always joking and having fun.

"Yesterday he made some bad decision which is going to be what a lot of people remember him by," Laura said. "I wish they could understand that wasn't the Luke I know."

His friends are praying for the troopers' families and were devastated when they heard the news, she said. 

"I just wish people would stop talking bad about Luke, saying he deserved to die," Laura said. "It's not nice. He made a bad decision and he paid for it."

Reach Travis Crum at travis.crum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.


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