I-95 suspect dies from his injuries
- RELATED: State trooper, suspect shot on I-95
A man who was shot during a struggle with a Virginia State Police trooper on Interstate 95 yesterday has died of his injuries.
Herbert J Wheeler Jr., 32, of Flintlock Drive in Chesterfield County, died early this morning from an unspecified gunshot wound. The trooper, who was also shot, is recovering from his injuries.
According to Virginia State Police Sgt. Thomas Molnar, State Police were called to the scene of an abandoned vehicle around 1:30 p.m. Thursday in the center median on the southbound side of I-95 at the 120 mile marker, which is in Spotsylvania County.
The 2003 Chevrolet Tahoe was abandoned after the driver, later identified as Wheeler, fled on foot into a wooded area after an attempted traffic stop by a special agent with the Department of Motor Vehicles, Molnar said. The agent attempted to stop Wheeler for reckless driving, Molnar said, but he was not located after a search.
Around 2 p.m., a tractor-trailor driver, who had stopped on the right shoulder to inspect a tire on I-95 South at the 118 mile marker in Thornburg, reported that a man approached him and attempted to gain access to his vehicle. Molnar said the man, also later identified as Wheeler, fled back into the wooded area.
Senior Trooper Michael Hamer responded to the area and located Wheeler walking along the right shoulder of the interstate at the 116 mile marker in Caroline County at 2:49 p.m., Molnar said.
After placing Wheeler in his unmarked patrol car, Molnar said a violent struggle ensued.
“During the struggle, the suspect attempted to take control of the trooper’s service weapon when the weapon discharged striking the trooper in the leg,” Molnar said. “As the violent struggle continued inside the troopers vehicle, the trooper returned fire with another weapon.”
Once the trooper was shot, he exited his vehicle and was assisted by three Good Samaritans, two women and a man, who stopped to render aid to the severely-bleeding trooper.
“The Good Samaritans acted heroically after the shooting took place,” Molnar said.
Hamer, 51, was taken by ambulance to Mary Washington Hospital, where he is currently recovering. Wheeler was flown by helicopter to the same hospital with “serious, life threatening injuries,” Molnar said. Unconfirmed reports said Wheeler was shot in the head.
Hamer began employment with the State Police on Oct. 16, 1996. He graduated from the 95th Basic School in April 1997. He was first assigned to patrol the Dinwiddie County area and later transferred in August 2001 to patrol the Spotsylvania area, Molnar said.
He currently has 15 years of service with the State Police and had served in the U.S. Marine Corps prior to becoming a state trooper.
Special Agents with the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation Richmond Field Office Shoot Team are continuing their investigation into the trooper-involved shooting.
All southbound lanes of I-95 near the 116-mile marker were shut down for several hours yesterday afternoon, creating huge traffic jams.
Caroline and Spotsylvania county sheriff’s offices assisted state police at the scene yesterday.