The Virginia state trooper murdered during a training exercise at a bus station Thursday was gunned down by an ex-con who reportedly harbored a deep-seated hatred of police -- and law enforcement leaders say it’s the latest example of a growing anti-cop climate that's putting their men and women in danger.
Trooper Chad Dermyer, a 37-year-old decorated Marine vet and married father of two, was one of a dozen Virginia State Police troopers taking part in the training at a Greyhound bus terminal in Richmond when a confrontation with the gunman, identified by Virginia State Police as James Brown III, turned violent.
"He had a lot of anger about the police in the past," Edith Brown told Richmond TV station WTVR of her nephew, who was shot and killed by state police. "He said he would never go back to prison again... he would fight it out with them."
Brown, 34, previously had been charged with crimes ranging from domestic battery to murder and was last known to be living in the Chicago suburb of Aurora, Ill., WTVR reported. It was not known what he was doing in Virginia’s capital.
"He pretty much thought he wanted to be infamous... in terms of having a showdown,” Edith Brown told the station. “He always praised those people who got into shootouts with police."
Investigators are piecing together what sparked the shooting, Virginia State Police Superintendent Col. Steven Flaherty said, adding that the troopers were practicing interdiction.
"We've got a lot of evidence to sift through," Flaherty said.
Police said the incident occurred at 2:40 p.m., when Dermyer approached a man just inside the bus station. The man pulled out a handgun and shot the trooper, who was wearing fatigues and no protective vest, multiple times. Two state troopers who were nearby returned fire, and the gunman ran into a restaurant inside the terminal, police said.
Even after police subdued the shooter, and as EMS workers aided him, he continued to be combative, police said. He died later at VCU Medical Center. His gun was recovered, police said.
Details about the training exercise were scant. Police called it “specialized training on criminal interdiction practices,” and said the troopers had completed the classroom instruction and were conducting field practicals at the time the shooting unfolded.
“Trooper Dermyer’s encounter with the male subject was part of the training,” police said in a statement.
Dermyer, who also died later Thursday at VCU Medical Center, was originally from Jackson, Mich., and had graduated from the Virginia State Police Academy in 2014. He had recently transferred to the state police CounterTerrorism and Criminal Interdiction Unit.
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