Fairmont man in custody after months at large from incident in Sept. which left 1 man dead


FAIRMONT, W.Va. — A Fairmont man is in custody after months of being at large following an incident that occurred in September which left one man dead.

On Sept. 15, officers with the Fairmont Police Department were dispatched to assist a gunshot victim at a residence located on Beech St. in Fairmont, according to a criminal complaint.

When officers arrived on the scene, they found the victim, Zackerie Howser, 21, of Fairmont, inside the residence “with a gunshot wound to the head,” and he “still had a pulse,” officers said.

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Brian Merchant-Jones

After Howser was life-flighted, officers spoke with his mother who informed them that she “heard a loud bang,” and then observed Brian Merchant-Jones, 21, of Fairmont, “leaving the bedroom where Howser was found,” according to the complaint.

Merchant-Jones had told Howser’s mother that he “had shot himself then proceeded to flee the residence,” however, earlier that evening “Jones had told a witness that he had a firearm,” officers said.

Several days after the incident, Howser was pronounced dead at Ruby Memorial Hospital, and when an autopsy was performed on Sept. 22, examiners found “no stippling” at the entry wound, and that “[s]tippling is consistent with a close-range gunshot,” according to the complaint.

Merchant-Jones was taken into custody in January on the warrant issued for his arrest in September for the charge of wanton endangerment. He is being held in North Central Regional Jail on $500,012 bond.

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