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W. Va. Trooper Killed; Gunman Shot Dead

April 16, 1989

TERRA ALTA, W.Va. (AP) _ A state trooper serving an arrest warrant for an unpaid traffic ticket was shot dead Saturday by the violator, who was then killed by a gunshot.

The gunman, Ercil Layton, 62, fired at Trooper J.T. Brammer and his partner after they entered his house around noon to serve the warrant for three missed appearances in traffic court, police said.

Brammer, 42, was killed and his partner, R.J. Hicks, 35, was wounded in the upper arm, officials said. It was not immediately clear whether the troopers returned the fire or whether Layton shot himself.

″A damned traffic ticket,″ state police Lt. Perry Ferguson said. ″It’s a hell of a price to pay.″

Hicks was in serious condition with a gunshot wound to the upper arm at Ruby Memorial Hospital in nearby Morgantown, a hospital supervisor said.

″It’s my understanding that (Layton’s) wife came to the door and let the officers in,″ state police Lt. Col. G.R. Young said at a news conference. ″They went into the house and from then on, things got bad.″

Brammer was found dead in a bedroom to the right of a hallway that leads from the front door of the house. Layton was found alive on the floor of a utility room at the end of the hallway. He died on the way to the hospital, Ferguson said.

Officers found a 30.06 high-powered rifle and a 32-caliber handgun in the Layton home. Young said he did not know if the weapons were used in the shootings.

Police said the traffic ticket was related to an April 1988 incident in which Layton allegedly struck an unattended vehicle and left the scene. According to the warrant, Layton missed court hearings in January, February and earlier this month.

The two troopers were going to take Layton to the Preston County Courthouse to pay the fines, Young said.

Brammer, a 16-year veteran and the father of two children, was the first West Virginia state trooper shot to death in 10 years.

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