Local lawyer in custody after hours-long South Hills standoff
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A heavily armed South Hills attorney held police in an hours-long standoff Monday morning, firing multiple shots in and around his home before being rushed to an emergency room with self-inflicted injuries, authorities said.
Lori Bramble frantically called 911 at 9:13 a.m. when her husband, Mark Bramble, 49, allegedly began firing shots in their home at 105 Cornwall Lane. The home is in the Sherwood Forest subdivision.
"When she's calling this in and talking, there's gunshots going off, and there's gunfire and more gunfire," Charleston Police Chief Brent Webster said in a press conference.
"She did not feel he was trying to hurt her, but she said early on that he said, 'There's someone in here trying to get me.'
"As it went on, he kept firing, he kept firing, shooting the floors, shooting the walls, shooting outside the window. At that point, she fled and we showed up, and we met with her, of course."
Bramble is listed as an assistant attorney general for the employment programs division in the Attorney General's Office.
He was hired June 1, 2012, under former Attorney General Darrell McGraw's administration, according to a press release from Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.
Bramble turned in a notice of resignation last Thursday. It was to go into effect Aug. 30.
Police say Bramble had multiple weapons, including handguns, shotguns and rifles at his home. Gunfire erupted multiple times during the episode, which lasted more than three hours.
"Initially there was gunfire. A lot of gunfire," Webster said. "Then as the officers showed up, there was a lot more gunfire."
Multiple police units responded, along with the SWAT team and the sheriff's bomb squad. Motorists on Corridor G were prevented from turning into Sherwood Forest for hours while negotiators tried to coax the shooter from his home.
"The first officers on the scene, they knew his name from the wife," Webster said. "They would say, 'Mark, can we help you? Mr. Bramble?' Each time, you hear 'pow! Pow!'
"He was shooting inside the house. He shot some rounds outside the house, across the street ... each time we would try to engage him, he would fire a round."
Webster said during the second or third volley, Bramble raised a long rifle or shotgun, broke a window and came outside with the weapon.
"One officer returned gunfire, but it wasn't clear if he hit him."
The officer fired an AR-15.
"It appears very much so that he knew who we were. We identified ourselves a couple times, then he saw us. Our officers were probably within 20 to 40 yards of him."
At some point, Bramble apparently re-entered the home.
When there was a break in gunfire, officers sent the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department robot inside, Webster said.
"Once it was able to go in the home and look around, it showed Mr. Bramble, I believe, on the first floor in one of the back rooms. He was on the floor moving and appeared injured. At that point, we decided to make the decision for our SWAT team to go in," he said.
Bramble resisted, but authorities took him to a hospital.
Neither Bramble nor police discharged any weapons after officers entered the home, Webster said.
Webster said some, if not all, of Bramble's injuries were self-inflicted.
"We took a sworn statement from the paramedics that while he was being transported to the hospital, Mr. Bramble told the paramedics that he shot himself in the head," Webster said.
"And he obviously has other injuries; he was covered in blood."
Webster said authorities had not established a motive but believe some problems from the previous day may have carried over.
"She loves her husband, but she was very frantic," Webster said of Bramble's wife. "A lot of it was confusing.
"She said she didn't really understand it. She felt this was out of character for him, but at the same time, she did give us some explanation of what had been going on in the last couple of days, and as we investigate this further, we'll probably go and explore that.
"It's possible he had been at the hospital or seeking some type of help yesterday."
Webster said the investigation would continue.
"We have a working crime scene. We have investigators there. They've described it as a mess," the chief said.
"We should be able to put that together, look at all the parts and interview anybody we can about this."
No other injuries were reported. Webster said many subdivision residents were still home at the time of the incident. He thought the house across the street was occupied, for example.
"We're happy that it ended; we would rather that he didn't get injured, either, but we're just very thankful no one else in that neighborhood is injured."
Residents were asked to stay inside their homes, and nearby Kenna Elementary School conducted a "voluntary lockdown."
"They're learning and aren't aware of what's going on," said Principal Karen Price, who said the students would be kept inside for the school day.
Morrisey's office issued a press release Monday afternoon.
"We are relieved that no one in his family or neighborhood was injured and that all members of the law enforcement community are safe," he said.
"As you know, details about this incident are still murky, and police are in the process of conducting a thorough investigation. We will have no further comment at this time."
As police tried to control the scene, a worker with Appalachian Power was sent into the neighborhood to cut off power to the home.
Dayton Carpenter, an engineer who lives nearby on Coventry Lane, said he received a call from the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department before 11 a.m. Monday advising him to stay in his house.
Carpenter said the Bramble house was about 100 yards from his home.
"I could hit a pitching wedge there," he said. "They're up on the hill a little bit. It's a pretty scary situation."
However, he said other houses and trees blocked his view of 105 Cornwall Lane. As he looked from his window, Carpenter could not see any police vehicles but he and his wife still took precautions. Instead of working in his second-floor office, Carpenter temporarily moved to the ground floor.
"I'm thinking about working in the basement," he said.
Other neighbors who tried returning to their homes Monday morning were prevented from doing so.
"I just got finished with water aerobics, and I am just trying to get home," said Ann Hamm, 68. Hamm lives on Nottingham Road and saw police driving up the road when she left for the class about 9:20 a.m., she said.
"I just figured someone needed help -- a heart attack or something. They didn't have the roads roped off then," she said.
"I've lived here for 37 years, and I haven't seen anything like this before. It's always been a friendly area, people helping each other. It's a wonderful area."