PARKERSBURG- No crime was committed when a man argued with a gas company worker while holding a shotgun Wednesday afternoon, Police Chief Joe Martin said, although the report of the incident drew a quick and visible response from police.
The incident started around noon Wednesday when a Dominion Hope employee went to 1106 31st St. to shut off the natural gas service because the account was delinquent, Martin said.
The man who owns the house "walks out holding a gun - not breaking the law, just basically to intimidate him," the chief said.
Photo by Evan Bevins
Parkersburg Police Chief Joe Martin, third from left, walks away from a residence on 1106 31st St. where a man was seen Wednesday afternoon holding a shotgun while arguing with a Dominion Hope worker. To Martin’s right, a Dominion employee turns off natural gas service to the house. Martin said no crime was committed because the man did not point the gun at the worker.
The worker left the property and did not contact police, Martin said. However, a teacher at North Christian School, located at North Parkersburg Baptist Church across the street, heard the men arguing, saw one holding a gun and called 911.
"They were just alarmed," Martin said.
Given the nature of the report, police responded with "a pretty strong presence," the chief said. Police vehicles blocked access to 31st Street at Emerson Avenue and Hemlock Street, and officers set up a perimeter.
Residents of nearby houses came outside to see what was happening.
North Christian School went into lockdown and moved children away from windows, said church administrator Ron Morris.
"We moved quickly, and then we waited until the police gave us the all-clear," he said.
Two-and-a-half blocks away, VanDevender Middle School was also placed on lockdown as a precaution, said Mike Fling, Wood County Schools assistant superintendent. Madison and Emerson elementaries were notified and asked not to allow students to go outside.
Martin said that since the man did not actually point the gun at and threaten the Dominion worker, the incident did not meet the qualifications to charge him with brandishing, a misdemeanor.
"He definitely skirted the requirements of the statute," Martin said.
The chief said the man is known to police but has never been charged with anything beyond minor traffic infractions. He said he spoke to the man personally.
"Once we made contact with him, calmed him down a little bit, he basically just said he was trying to protect his property," Martin said.
Dominion eventually shut off the gas service from the sidewalk.