String of Recent Officer-Involved Shootings in W.Va.

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Within just the last week, there have been four cases of law enforcement involved in deadly shootings throughout West Virginia.

Last Tuesday police shot and killed Jimmy Hamlin Jr. in Lewisburg after he held a gun toward them.

On Thursday Logan County murder suspect John Dempsey was shot and killed after a police chase ended in a standoff.

Saturday Jason Dillon refused to drop a large club and was shot and killed by a deputy in Mercer County.

Also on Saturday deputies in Kanawha County shot and killed Lawrence Vaughn near Pinch after he fired a pistol at them.

"We don't relish any opportunity to be involved in a critical incident," Sgt. Michael Baylous with West Virginia State Police said.

Baylous says in these dangerous situations, the decision to shoot comes from training, and the decision often has to be a quick one.

"That's the thing that's so hard to do," he said. "You have to take information, then you have to decide what the appropriate action is."

In 2012 there were 32 cases of officers threatened with a gun, but in the first few weeks of 2013 there have already been three.

"They're grown, and they had no respect for authoritative figures in school," he said.

Baylous believes the rise in aggression toward police can be linked to a drop in moral teachings.

"You have a whole generation of kids," he said. "Morals weren't clearly defined for them. As a result of that and other contributing factors, we're reaping what we've sown."

State Police monitor the number of assaults against police. The numbers for 2012 aren't quite complete, but Baylous says it looks like incidents were actually down the past year from 2011.

However, as we've seen, 2013 is off to an alarmingly fast start.

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