State police investigating why Greyhound shooter with criminal past had gun

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RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia State Police released new information Friday about the man who shot and killed Trooper Chad P. Dermyer and the moments that led up to the shooting at the Greyhound bus station Thursday afternoon.

Virginia State Police Superintendent Colonel W. Steven Flaherty described the shooting incident as something that happened without alarm within seconds of Trooper Chad P. Dermyer approaching James Brown III, 34, of Aurora, Illinois.

James Brown III

James Brown III

Flaherty said Brown was coming from Raleigh and headed to Chicago through the Greyhound bus with 143 rounds of unspent ammunition in his possession.

CBS 6 reporter Mark Holmberg uncovered brown’s extensive criminal history in his home state of Illinois, with charges including murder, intent to kill, aggravated battery with a firearm, failure to obey police, and aggravated battery of a pregnant woman.

Timeline

Flaherty confirmed Brown only served 2 years of a previous murder charge, as he was convicted of a lesser charge.

“It’s very troubling that he would have a gun and it’s very troubling that he was out knowing the history that he has,” he said.

Flaherty said they are still investigating why Brown was out of prison considering the previous charges against him in Illinois.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do. I’m concerned he was able to obtain a gun. We know that gun was bought over a year ago. It was not bought by Brown,” Flaherty said. “We don’t know at this point how Brown acquired it. We are working with ATF to try to determine that.”

CBS 6 talked to Brown’s aunt, Edith Brown, who had helped raise Brown and had allowed him to stay with her until December, when she says she told him he had to leave.

She said, "He always liked the criminal side."

She was upset about what happened, but not surprised.

"He had a lot of anger about the police in the past," she said. "He pretty much thought he wanted to be infamous . . . in terms of having a showdown. He always praised those people who got into shootouts with police."

She said her nephew vowed that his prison days were over.

"He said he would never go back to prison again," she said. "He would fight it out with them."

“Happened within seconds”

Trooper Chad P. Dermyer and 16 other troopers, special agents, and supervisors, were going through a training operation at the bus station, when he approached Brown as a part of his introductory training, as he was new to the counter terrorism and criminal interdiction unit.

Dermyer tried to carry a conversation with Brown near the front entrance of the bus station around 2:40 p.m., within seconds Brown pulled out a 40 caliber Beretta semi-automatic pistol from his pants and shot Dermyer multiple times.

Virginia State Trooper Chad Dermyer

Virginia State Trooper Chad Dermyer

At that point, two troopers nearby in plain clothes returned fire at Brown, striking him and taking him into custody. Brown was transported to VCU Medical Center where he died at the hospital.

During the gunfire two women suffered non-life threatening injuries after being struck by bullets.

Colonel W. Steven Flaherty praised Dermyer’s work as a law enforcement officer and with the State Police.

He said Dermyer was responsible for a major success in Interstate I-64 traffic stop in May 2015, where he helped discover the remains of a woman’s son in the trunk after he had been missing for years. The boy’s mother, Tonya Slaton, has since been charged with second degree murder.

“Had it not been for his thoroughness and his perseverance in that stop, more than likely that case would have gone unsolved,” Flaherty said.

Before joining state police, Dermyer served with the City of Newport News Police Department and the Jackson, Mich., Police Department. Dermyer also served four years with the U.S. Marine Corps.

He is survived by his wife Michelle and two young children.

The Virginia State Police Association is accepting donations for the Dermyer family. Checks should be addressed to VSPA Emergency Relief Fund and with Trooper Dermyer in the “memo” line. Donations can be mailed or dropped off at the VSPA at 6944 Forest Hill Avenue in Richmond, Virginia 23225.