Man charged in murder, carjacking and officer-involved shooting; victim's name released

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CHARLESTON, W. Va. (WSAZ) -- The name of the suspect involved in a murder, carjacking and officer-involved shooting has been released, as well as the victim's name.

Charleston Police say Joshua Andrew Drennen, 27, of Clendenin, is the suspect. Later Wednesday afternoon, police said Drennen has been charged with numerous felonies in connection with the incident. Among those charges are first-degree murder and first-degree robbery.

Barbara Steele, 77, is identified as the victim. Charleston Police say she died from blunt force trauma to the head.

In addition, Drennen is charged with attempted murder and malicious wounding for the attack on Charleston Police Officer Terrence Casto who has since been released from the hospital.

This all happened in the matter of a few short hours Tuesday on Charleston's West Side.

"The public does not need to be in alarm. There is no further threat to the public at this time," Charleston Police Chief Tyke Hunt said.

Hunt says the homicide was the first incident that initially ignited the string of events. Police say Steele was killed inside a home on Georgia Street Tuesday morning.

Then after that, a carjacking took place at the Walgreens parking lot on Washington Street West. After stealing the car, the suspect drove off but eventually crashed just a few short miles away at Lee Street and Tennessee Avenue where he attempted to carjack another vehicle. He was unsuccessful and started to take off running.

Eventually, Officer Terrence Casto pulled up to the scene.

"The individual immediately went to the officer; he just barely got out of the car before he was attacked," Kanawha County Sheriff Mike Rutherford said.

Rutherford says Patrolman Casto went backward away from the suspect to try to get some space. He pulled out his collapsible baton during the almost immediate altercation, but it was lost. The suspect hit the officer in the head with an antique flat iron and eventually the officer fired back with two gunshots.

"(The flat iron) is very heavy, it has very pointed edges on it and the officer's extremely lucky that it wasn't worse then what it was," Rutherford said.

Hunt also says that firefighters and a passerby witnessed almost everything and sprang into action to help Patrolman Casto.

"While Officer Casto was in the midst of this struggle with the suspect, Charleston firefighters unarmed, no body armor (were) right there by his side," Hunt said.

"(The civilian) was also a hero in this because, you don't have many citizens who would actually go out and try to help an officer when he's being attacked," Rutherford told WSAZ. "And we deeply appreciate that."

Officials say Casto is home recovering now.

Charleston Police say Drennen remains hospitalized under guard.

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