UPDATE: Elkins Police Chief issues statement on SWAT incident, releases name of deceased individual involved

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UPDATE (1/28/2021 1 p.m.):

ELKINS, W.Va. – Elkins Police Department Chief, Travis C. Bennett, has released a statement providing additional details about the SWAT team operation on January 21, at a home on Evans Drive in South Elkins.

According to Chief Bennett, the individual found deceased at the location was Ty Garrett Hilderbrand, age 35.

Hilderbrand had recently moved from Missouri to Elkins, according to the statement, and lived at the home that was the scene of last week’s standoff. He was not the only resident of this house, but he was alone in the house at the time of this incident, Chief Bennett explained.

Officials explained that prior to the January 21 incident, EPD had contact with Hilderbrand in relation to a domestic violence call. In the course of this contact and during subsequent communications with law enforcement and community members, Hilderbrand stated that he was “armed and that he intended to resist an investigation.” He also threatened to “burn down his house, which is located in close proximity to other houses and an elementary school,” according to Chief Bennett.

When Hilderbrand was found dead, he was in possession of a handgun and a rifle. The house had been heavily barricaded, according to the release.

UPDATE (1/22/21 4:30 p.m.):

ELKINS, W.Va. – More information has been released regarding the standoff at a residence in Elkins.

According to Elkins Police Department Chief Travis Bennett, the hours-long standoff at a residence on Evans Drive in South Elkins developed after an Elkins Police Department (EPD) SWAT team attempted to serve a felony warrant on an individual suspected of making terroristic threats.

After hours of negotiation attempts, SWAT officers made entry and discovered the building’s lone occupant dead of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to officials. The Elkins Police Department is not confirming the decedent’s name at this point in the investigation.

“Based on intelligence and prior communications with this individual, the decision was made to follow our high-risk warrant service protocol,” said Chief Bennett. “That includes use of our SWAT officers and the department’s MRAP vehicle, as well as a public notice to shelter in place and the evacuation of nearby residences as a precaution.”

When the operation commenced at around 6:30 p.m., the police department explained that they had ample grounds for believing that the individual named in the warrant was in possession of numerous firearms and that any arrest attempt might turn violent.

“The suspect had made it known that he was armed and ready to confront law enforcement officers with deadly force and had prepared his residence for a standoff,” said Chief Bennett. “Once we were on scene and had evacuated the neighboring residences, we found that the suspect had indeed barricaded himself inside the house and was refusing to come out.”

According to a release, throughout the next several hours, officers made numerous attempts to negotiate with the individual barricaded inside the residence. Officers also attempted to force the suspect outside through the use of non-lethal chemical irritants.

These attempts were met with further threats by the suspect to come outside shooting at officers and to shoot any officers who tried to come inside. Finally, around 10:30 p.m., SWAT officers deployed flash-bang grenades and additional chemical-irritant rounds, then entered the residence, according to officials.

“Upon entering, my officers observed that the suspect had installed heavy barricades and other fortifications in the house,” said Chief Bennett. “They found the suspect deceased with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.”

Chief Bennett confirmed that this was the only shot fired in the course of this incident; no shots were fired by or at law enforcement officers.

“I’m really proud of the skill and professionalism shown by all of the officers and other personnel who helped out,” he said. “I’m grateful for the assistance of the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office, the West Virginia State Police, the Elkins Fire Department, and Randolph County EMS.”

This is an ongoing investigation, and no further information will be released at this time.

UPDATE (1/21/21 11 p.m.):

ELKINS, W.Va. – The Elkins Police Department released the following information about the situation at 10:51 p.m. on Thursday.

Chief Travis Bennett stated, “The shelter-in-place advisory for South Elkins has been lifted. There is no further threat to public safety related to this incident.”

City officials explained that they are planning to release more information Friday as the investigation proceeds.

UPDATE (1/21/21 8 p.m.):

ELKINS, W.Va. – New information about the situation has been released.

According to officials, law enforcement officers are on-scene at a house on Evans Drive, where a suspect is barricaded inside.

At this time, there are no other suspects at large.

Officials are advising residents to continue to shelter in place and do not approach this area, as the situation remains dangerous.

ORIGINAL STORY (1/21/21 6:10 p.m.):

ELKINS, W.Va. – Residents of the First Ward neighborhood in Elkins being advised immediately to shelter in place because of a police SWAT operation, according to city officials.

According to a release, the shelter-in-place order is for the area bounded to the west by Georgetown Road/Livingston Avenue; to the north by 12th Street, and to the east and south by the Tygart River. The advisory also applies to the Bridgewater neighborhood.

Until the all-clear is given, remain in homes and do not go outside. Officials are advising people to stay away from windows and do not answer the doors.

City officials will announce when the operation concludes and the area is secure.

Stay with 12 News as this is a developing story. More information will be added as it becomes available.

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