West Virginia Family Waits for Help With Standoff Damage

November 19, 2013

A Nicholas County family whose house was riddled with bullets during a July standoff is waiting for police to help repair the damage.

Rick and Sonja Cool found dozens of bullet holes in their bedroom, their children’s bedroom and the living room after the July 6 standoff ended.

“(Police) told us not to worry about the damages to the house,” Sonja Cool told the Charleston Gazette, “and we just assumed they would take care of it without question.”

Nicholas County prosecutor James P. Milam told the newspaper last week that he has filed a claim with the county’s insurer. He said that he’s not sure why it took so long to file the claim.

Milam said it’s standard practice that insurance claims be filed with police agencies involved in damaging someone’s home.

The Cools have turned to a lawyer for help but no lawsuit has been filed. Milam said he has talked to the couple’s lawyer.

State Police Sgt. Michael Baylous said he would not comment because of the potential lawsuit.

“I never expected anything like this to happen and for my kids to have to go through it,” Sonja Cool said. “My 11-year-old daughter has nightmares and my 2-year-old boy is terrified of policemen. It’s been an ordeal that has turned our lives upside down.”

The Cools’ neighbor, 84-year-old John Evans, shot and wounded two deputies during the standoff. He exchanged gunfire with other officers and was fatally shot when he exited the back door and fired again.

Nicholas County Sheriff David L. Hopkins has said that every tactic available was used to peacefully resolve the standoff, including tear gas, public address systems and even a West Virginia State Police bomb squad robot equipped with a loudspeaker. None succeeded.

Dispatchers told the Cools to stay locked inside their house. They took their 11-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son to a lower part of the house for safety.

One officer eventually noticed the family was still inside their home and came to escort them out. The officer instructed the Cools to run into the woods behind their house until someone came and got them, Sonja Cool said.

When the standoff ended, a police officer came and told the Cools that they could not return to their house because it was an active crime scene. They stayed at a neighbor’s house until later that night.

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