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Randolph County standoff suspect ID'd; ex-wife critical

ELKINS, W.Va. -- West Virginia State Police have identified the people involved in a Randolph County shooting and police standoff that left one man dead and his ex-wife in critical condition with multiple gunshot wounds.

Jeffrey L. Zirkle, 52, was shot and killed by troopers after coming out of his home near Jimtown with a rifle Tuesday evening, Sgt. Michael Baylous said Wednesday. Troopers and relatives had tried for several hours to negotiate a peaceful surrender, but Baylous said those attempts failed and Zirkle posed an immediate threat.

Authorities believe Zirkle was impaired, possibly by alcohol, but are awaiting confirmation from the state medical examiner's office, he said.

Before the standoff, Zirkle allegedly shot his ex-wife, 49-year-old Elizabeth Smith, multiple times. She managed to drive about 5 miles to her mother's home in Coalton near an elementary school and called 911.

The school was briefly locked down while the shooting was investigated, but the children were never in danger.

Smith was in critical condition Wednesday at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, Baylous said.

The trooper who shot Zirkle has not been identified but has been placed on paid administrative leave while the incident is investigated.


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