Police explain Monday's rush hour nightmare in Lewisburg - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Police explain Monday's rush hour nightmare in Lewisburg

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What started out as a traffic stop, escalated to gun fire at the corner of North Jefferson Street and Coleman Drive on Monday, Jan. 7.  That is near the Shoney's and Ruby Tuesday's restaurants near the on ramp to Interstate 64.

At 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 8, West Virginia State Police Sergeant Michael Baylous lead a news conference to release the details of what happened.

Police said it all began at a home in the west end of Lewisburg when a lover's quarrel crossed the line. Jimmy L. Hamlin Jr, a native of Kathleen, Ga. got into a heated argument with his girlfriend.

He took off in a red truck and that is when police were alerted to stop his vehicle.  Little did they know the traffic stop would turn deadly.  After pulling over Hamlin's vehicle,  law enforcement officers noticed a rifle. Hamlin stepped out of his truck, rifle in hand, and threatened law enforcement officials.

"When we put on our uniform, we go out to serve and protect the public. This is the furthest thing to occur, we don't want anything to happen like this," said Sgt. Baylous.

Police said they had no other choice but to take action.

"We are dealing with a public safety issue here were a man brandished a weapon at officers in the middle of a busy highway and a busy time of day. So the threat had to be taken care of," Lewisburg Police Chief Tim Stover said.

Several shots erupted as officers and troopers opened fire, one of them killing Hamlin.

While the investigation is still on-going, Sgt. Baylous said they believe Hamlin may have been trying to commit "suicide by police officer."  The term is used for anyone who deliberately acts in a threatening way to provoke a lethal reaction from law enforcement officers.  Sgt. Baylous said that is a possible motive because Hamlin put the officers in a difficult situation leaving them no other choice but to use force.

"If he committed suicide by cop he wasted on of the most precious gifts of all and that is the gift of life," Sgt. Baylous said.