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Spencer officials collecting money for police body armor

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Officials for the city of Spencer are collecting money to buy up to 10 ballistic vests, after a vest apparently saved the life of a sheriff's deputy last week.

On Aug. 28, Roane County Sheriff's Deputy John Westfall was wounded by Luke Baber, 22, of Oak Hill, who shot and killed two West Virginia State Police troopers at the Wallback park and ride off Interstate 79. Baber also shot and wounded Westfall and a tow truck driver before he was shot and killed by sheriff's deputies.

Westfall was shot in the arm and abdomen, and Roane County Sheriff Mike Harper said his body armor saved his life. But not every officer in Roane County has a ballistic vest, and some of the vests they do have are old.

"A vest has a life span to it," said Jacob Fetty, marketing director for the city of Spencer.

Shortly after the shootings, Fetty said people began calling the city asking how they could help Westfall or other local law enforcement officers. "West Virginia has a huge family that's spread out all over the United States," Fetty said, adding that he got phone calls from as far away as Utah.

Officials began looking at the inventories of the Roane County Sheriff's Department and Spencer Police Department and eventually decided a good way to help would be to buy some new body armor.

"The city's trying to help out the county, and all our law enforcement officers, to get the proper equipment," Fetty said. "There are some county deputies out there with outdated vests."

The Roane County Sheriff's Department comprises seven deputies and the sheriff, Mike Harper. The Spencer Police Department is made up of four full-time and three part-time officers.

Fetty wants to buy 10 new ballistic vests. The vests cost about $650 each.

Response has been good so far, Fetty said. "We're probably approaching the $2,000 mark [in donations]," he said. About half of the donations have come from out of state.

To find out more or to donate, visit www.cityofspencer.com or call 304-927-1640.

Reach Rusty Marks at rustymarks@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.

 


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