EPD Advice for Halloween Safety
EPD Chief Travis Bennett offers the following safety tips for safe trick-or-treating this Halloween. In Elkins, by longstanding council resolution, trick-or-treating is observed every year on Halloween (Oct. 31), 6:30-8 p.m.
Halloween is a fun holiday but it does pose a few safety risks. Fortunately, some simple precautions can make sure everyone has a fun time and makes it home in one piece. Regarding costumes, please make sure you choose a costume that the label says is “flame resistant.” It’s also important to remember visibility. If your child is wearing a dark-colored costume, you should add some strips of reflective tape so drivers can see them. Make sure children’s masks don’t obscure their own vision so they can see cars coming.
For drivers, my advice is to stay off the road if possible on Halloween evening. If you have to go out, drive at a reduced speed and keep a sharp eye out. There are going to be a lot of excited children who might run across streets unexpectedly, and unfortunately not everyone is going to follow the advice to use reflective tape. Think about how you would feel if you caused another family’s Halloween to end in tragedy.
Parents, make sure your children know not to eat any of their candy until you get a chance to look at it. Don’t consume homemade treats from anyone you don’t know personally, and throw away candy that looks like it has been tampered with. Finally, keep in mind that nationwide there have been reports of children accidentally ingesting substances like fentanyl, THC, and other controlled substances because these are sometimes manufactured into pill or gummy forms that resemble candy. If you’re not sure about something, throw it out–you’ll still have plenty of candy to enjoy, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Have a safe and happy Halloween, everyone!
Illegal Parking Near Railroad and Third
Statement from EPD Chief Travis Bennett:
EPD personnel have observed illegal, unsafe parking patterns near the intersection of Railroad Avenue and Third Street.
Drivers are reminded that, in this area, the only allowed street parking is either (1) parallel to the curb in front of the Station Square Office Complex, (2) in the angled parking spaces along the side of the Delmonte Market, or (3) parallel to the curb adjacent to the city parking lot near the Davis Trust Company. Aside from two spots reserved for tour buses on the other side of the street, parking is not allowed anywhere else on Railroad Avenue, including in the wide area of the street adjacent to the Delmonte and Station Square. Cars parked anywhere other than the designated spots cause confusion and hazards and may be ticketed and towed.
Free parking is available in the city hall parking lot, located at the intersection of Fourth Street and Railroad Avenue.
EPD Investigating Death on Graceland Drive
Statement from Elkins Police Chief Travis Bennett:
Early on the morning of Sunday, August 21, Elkins Police Department officers responding to a call found a seriously injured person on Graceland Drive, which runs parallel to and on the east side of Randolph Avenue, adjacent to the Grandview Avenue neighborhood and the campus of Davis & Elkins College. (See outlined area on map, below.)
The injured person, Connor Nestor, age 22, was transported to Davis Medical Center, where he succumbed to his injuries and died.
This is an active investigation. Anyone with information should contact the Elkins Police Department.
Phone: 304-636-1414 ext. 1535
EPD Scam Alert
Local Spike in “Impostor Scams”
EPD is seeing increased cases of “impostor scams” in Elkins. These scams begin with a call, text message, or an email from someone you trust: a government agent, a family member, a fraud-prevention worker, your student-loan lender, or someone who promises to fix your phone or computer.
Before you know it, your money is gone.
- Telling you that you must take action immediately
- Asking for personal or account information
- Requesting that you download an app to enable them to fix your phone or computer
- Directing you pay by gift card, cryptocurrency (e.g., Bitcoin), or wire transfer
- Be suspicious of any call from a government agency or business asking for money or information. This isn’t what governments or reputable businesses do; it’s what scammers do.
- Don’t trust Caller ID. Even if the call looks real, this is easy to fake, so you could be talking to anyone.
- Never pay by gift card, cryptocurrency (e.g., Bitcoin), or wire transfer. These charges can’t be reversed and you won’t be able to recover your money.
- Hang up and call back. Get the name of the agency or company, hang up, and look the number up yourself. Call the listed number and ask if they are trying to reach you.
What To Do
If you think you’ve been scammed or have been contacted by a scammer, report the incident to local law enforcement (911 or EPD non-emergency number: 304-636-0678).
- If you’ve lost money to a phone scam or have information about the company or scammer who called you, report it at ftc.gov.
- If you didn’t lose money and just want to report a call, you can use the FTC’s streamlined reporting form at gov.
- If you or someone you know has been the victim of an internet crime, file a complaint with the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3): https://www.ic3.gov.
For more information about identifying and avoiding scams: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/how-avoid-scam
EPD Statement on Social Media Rumors
Statement of EPD Chief Travis C. Bennett:
After news that EPD and WVSP are investigating two entirely separate, isolated matters (on Randolph Avenue and in Highland Park, respectively), social media users have been sharing false and misleading information. In particular, people have been spreading rumors that EPD is aware of an ongoing threat to this community but has chosen not to issue warnings or information about it.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. The only time we would hold back from issuing a statement in such circumstances would be for operational security, such as if an arrest were imminent.
That’s not what is going on here. What’s going on here is what goes on all too often on social media. People hear a few details about an incident, leap to unfounded conclusions, and spread baseless rumors. These rumors end up needlessly frightening the public and complicating our investigations.
As usual, most of what is being said about these two matters is full of errors. Unfortunately, I can’t correct those errors right now without jeopardizing investigations and eventual prosecutions.
I would ask that, if you are seeing inflammatory claims on social media about some incident, and if you are NOT seeing related statements from EPD, please consider the most likely explanation. That is, the rumors are false or exaggerated, the gossips have gotten important details wrong as usual, and there is nothing to make a statement about.
The fact is, just because a serious crime is alleged to have been committed, this is not necessarily grounds for issuing a statement. We make statements when there is vital information to be shared in order to protect the community or otherwise clarify details about a situation of broad, legitimate public interest. Sexual assaults and other violent crimes, in the absence of any indication of a further threat to the public, are not in that category.
There is no ongoing threat in these two matters, which again are unrelated and isolated incidents.
Please don’t feed the rumor mill.
Chief of Police
Annual Report: EPD Made 91 Drug Arrests in 2021
Officers investigated 371 cases and received 2,412 hours of training
The Elkins Police Department has released its 2021 annual report, providing statistics and insights from a year that saw officers respond to 5,412 calls for service, make 91 drug arrests, and receive 2,412 hours of training—all while operating under the special challenges of the second year of the coronavirus pandemic.
During 2021, EPD officers investigated 371 criminal cases involving 420 crime victims. EPD investigations led to 261 arrests, including 91 for drug offenses; 81 for assault; 50 for larceny; 11 for forcible sex offenses; 3 for stolen motor vehicles; and 3 for kidnapping. Last year also saw the city’s first homicide since 2015; EPD Chief Travis Bennett reported to city council that the suspect was in custody within an hour of the initial 911 call.
EPD officers performed 1,121 traffic stops during 2021. These resulted in 330 citations and 791 warnings. The department also responded to 234 motor vehicle accidents and issued 800 parking citations.
Training was a particular emphasis last year. The 2,412 hours of training received by EPD officers included not only basic law enforcement topics and techniques but also advanced specialty instruction.
In early 2021, EPD hosted a series of multi-agency training sessions concerning active-shooter situations. This training focused on immediate solo response by the first arriving officer and ensured that all area law enforcement and emergency-medical personnel will be familiar with the same tactics and protocols in the event such a situation arises.
The department also conducted training for Randolph County Public School bus drivers about hostage and other emergency situations.
These training sessions further strengthened the skills and capabilities of the EPD SWAT team, which consists of officers trained to handle potentially dangerous situations such as high-risk warrant service, barricaded suspects, hostage situations, and protection details. During 2021, EPD SWAT operators served three high-risk warrants. They also responded to two separate barricaded-suspect situations and one request for assistance from another area department.
“This year brought the challenges of high call volume, pandemic precautions, and several high-risk, high-profile incidents,” says Chief Bennett. “I couldn’t be more pleased with my team’s performance. We’re looking forward to seeing what 2022 brings and continuing to work with the community to keep Elkins a safe and enjoyable location for residents and visitors.”
Whiteman Avenue Homicide
Statement of EPD Chief Travis Bennett:
On 11/18/2021 at approximately 11:39 pm, Elkins Police Department officers responded to a residence located at 112 Whiteman Avenue for a reported shooting.
Upon arrival, officers encountered a male subject suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. EPD officers provided medical aid to the victim until Randolph County Emergency Medical Services arrived on scene. The victim, Timothy Slayton (41), was transported to Davis Medical Center where he died a short time later.
Officers were able to quickly develop a suspect and locate him at his residence located at 1117 South Kerens Avenue. The suspect, Heath Coberly (48), was taken into custody by the Elkins Police Department without incident at 1:03am. Coberly is charged with Murder. I would like to thank the WV State Police, Randolph County Sheriff’s Department, the Randolph County Prosecutors Office, and Randolph County EMS for their assistance with this incident.
As this is an ongoing investigation, we are not able to release additional information at this time.
Mayor Marco Invited to Complete Streets Champions Institute
In support of the Active People, Healthy Nation Initiative, Smart Growth America (SGA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity announced today that Elkins Mayor Jerry Marco will be part of the second class of the Champions Institute. The Champions Institute is a program created to help motivated local elected officials equitably define, design, build, and evaluate Complete Streets in their communities. Mayor Marco was selected as one of the many local elected officials from across the United States (and its territories).
“We are pleased to welcome Mayor Marco to the second class of the Champions Institute,” said John Robert Smith, a senior policy advisor at Smart Growth America, and the former mayor of Meridian, Mississippi. “Marco’s commitment to position their hometown to become a more accessible, equitable, and economically viable community for all residents was compelling. Experts in their field will provide the mayor with valuable skills throughout the program and share their own insights in developing more activity-friendly routes to everyday destinations.”
Over the next six months, participants in the Champions Institute will attend virtual learning sessions that will make them experts in equity-based principles and train them on the fundamental steps to take to achieve Complete Streets in their community, from envisioning to implementation. Participants will also learn about best practices and challenges from across the country, as they grapple with different strategies in a collaborative and supportive peer-learning environment.
Local leaders who are selected for the Champions Institute will have the opportunity to learn from a broad array of national experts and former local elected officials in the areas of public health, policy, street design, and project implementation. At the completion of the institute’s program champions will be experts in promoting community reforms to create safer streets for all users including pedestrians, cyclists, transit riders, and motorists. Champions will be prepared to support plans, policies, and funding that promote the CDC’s Active People, Healthy Nation℠ Initiative of expanding activity-friendly routes to everyday destinations, in their communities.
After participants complete their work in the Champions Institute, SGA will provide continuing support to the local champions as they serve their communities. Newly minted Complete Streets Champions will act as emissaries to other local leaders, sharing their expertise and ideas to grow a network of more Complete Streets Champions across the country who will build and expand activity-friendly routes to everyday destinations across the country.
“It’s really exciting to be selected for the Champions program, because it connects directly to so many things that I’m really passionate about,” says Marco. “We want Elkins to be as walkable as possible and to be a city where pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists share the streets safely. That’s key to getting people moving more and enjoying the health and mental benefits of an active lifestyle. I can’t wait to bring what I learn back to Elkins.”
This program is funded through a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Nutrition, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity. This program is designed to support the Active People, Healthy Nation initiative through developing more activity-friendly routes to everyday destinations.
Smart Growth America envisions a country where no matter where you live, or who you are, you can enjoy living in a place that is healthy, prosperous, and resilient. We empower communities through technical assistance, advocacy, and thought leadership to realize our vision of livable places, healthy people, and shared prosperity. For more information visit www.smartgrowthamerica.org.
Active People, Healthy Nation℠ Initiative is a national initiative led by CDC to help 27 million Americans become more physically active by 2027. Increased physical activity can improve health, quality of life, and reduce health care costs. These improvements can help reduce the risk of at least 20 chronic diseases and conditions and provide effective treatment for many of these conditions. Other potential benefits include better school performance and improved military readiness. Building active and walkable communities can help support local economies, result in less air pollution, and create more cohesive communities. Learn more here.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity protects the health of Americans at every stage of life by encouraging regular physical activity, good nutrition, and healthy weight. Through support of state and community partners, they provide data, programs that work, and practical tools so that Americans have the best possible chance to achieve healthier lives and avoid chronic diseases.
Smart Growth America Contact: Devin Willis, email@example.com
Read this on our blog: www.cityofelkinswv.com/city-blog.
EPD Seizes 15 Marijuana Plants
Elkins, W. Va., August 11, 2021: Acting on an anonymous tip, Elkins Police Department (EPD) officers located and seized 15 marijuana plants near Wilson Lane today.
After receiving the tip, Corporal C.G. Boatwright, Corporal B.D. Tice, and Patrolmen N.G. Elbon, R.S. Goux, J.L. Rutter and R.A. Summerfield responded to a wooded area south of Wilson Lane. The officers searched the area on foot and discovered a plot where 15 marijuana plants were being grown. Officers also found gardening tools apparently stored nearby by the grower.
Officers used the tools to remove the plants and transported them to the EPD station for later transfer to and destruction by the West Virginia State Police. No suspects have been identified yet.
This is the second large marijuana-cultivation operation disrupted by EPD inside Elkins city limits since 2012.
Posing with 15 seized marijuana plants are (left to right) Patrolman R.S. Goux, Patrolman R.A. Summerfield, Corporal B.D. Tice, Corporal C.G. Boatwright, Patrolman N.G. Elbon, and Patrolman J.L. Rutter.
Elkins Police Department cruiser with 15 seized marijuana plants.
EPD Seizes 1.7 Pounds of Meth and Three Firearms
- Largest methamphetamine seizure in EPD history
- Citizen information contributed to probable cause for search warrant
While on routine patrol on River Street in Elkins this morning, EPD officers D.T. Sayre (Patrolman First Class) and N.G. Elbon (Patrolman) contacted two individuals, Eric Armstrong and Roger Ware.
After obtaining consent for a pat-down search for officer safety, EPD found Armstrong to be in possession of a firearm and a personal-use amount of a white crystalline substance consistent with methamphetamine. Arm strong was detained for further investigation. A search of his backpack found approximately 135 grams of a white crystalline substance consistent with methamphetamine.
After attempting to flee officers, Ware was also found to be in possession of a firearm, as well as a digital scale and baggies.
Based on this encounter and information about Armstrong received from the public, officers received and executed a search warrant for Armstrong’s residence in Heavener Acres, which he shares with Krystal Ann Dellagatta.
Officers contacted and detained Dellagatta at this residence. She directed officers to three safes hidden under a bed and containing additional amounts of a white crystalline substance consistent with methamphetamine. Officers also found ledgers, scales, and other items consistent with the ongoing distribution and sale of controlled substances.
Armstrong, Ware, and Dellagatta were transported to the Tygart Valley Regional Jail.
In total, this investigation resulted in the seizure of approximately 750 grams (1.7 pounds) of a crystalline substance consistent with methamphetamine and three firearms. The street value of the alleged methamphetamine is approximately $85,000.
“This is the largest methamphetamine seizure in EPD history,” says EPD Chief Travis Bennett.