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Man killed by deputies suspected in shooting at Ona VFD

HUNTINGTON — The man who fired upon deputies before being killed by return fire Wednesday night was suspected of shooting up the Ona Volunteer Fire Department earlier this week, Cabell County Sheriff Chuck Zerkle said Thursday.

Michael Lane Pinkerman II, 26, fired multiple shots at deputies who came to serve a search warrant at his home along Blue Sulphur Road in Ona. Two deputies were struck by gunfire before they returned fire and fatally shot Pinkerman.

Cpl. Jim Johnston was shot twice in his back, which was protected by a bulletproof vest. Deputy Jared Cremeans was shot through one hand and through the shoulder. Cremeans’ other hand was struck by a bullet and a bullet grazed his head. Cremeans, who was also wearing a bulletproof vest, took at least two shots to the chest.

Johnston was released from the hospital by Thursday with minor injuries caused by the force of gunshots to his vest, Zerkle said. Cremeans was undergoing surgery on his hand Thursday and was expected to be released later this week.

Sometime between Monday night and early Tuesday, someone fired 13 shots into the front bay doors of the Ona Volunteer Fire Department, which was closed at the time. The shooting damaged the bumper of a fire engine, shot out the transmission line of a fire tanker and struck the radiator of a fire rescue truck, Zerkle said.

Pinkerman was a former member of the department until he was removed, Zerkle said. It’s believed Pinkerman shot up the fire station in retaliation for the removal, the sheriff said.

Deputies began investigating Pinkerman in connection with the fire station shooting after cameras outside the station captured a light-colored vehicle similar to Pinkerman’s at the time of the shooting. Members of the fire station also mentioned Pinkerman when they were asked if anyone possibly had a grudge against the department, Zerkle said.

Deputies went to speak with Pinkerman at his home in Ona early Wednesday and he told them to leave his property or return with a warrant, Zerkle said. Deputies later learned Pinkerman was in possession of a 9 mm handgun reported stolen in Arizona.

A tactical team with the Cabell County Sheriff’s Office, which included deputies Johnston and Cremeans, returned to Pinkerman’s home at about 6:30 p.m. to serve a search warrant in connection with the stolen firearm.

Zerkle said Pinkerman and his father, Michael Lane Pinkerman, 56, were expecting deputies to return.

The elder Pinkerman braced himself against the door of the home after deputies repeatedly announced themselves and advised him to open the door, according to a criminal complaint filed in Cabell County Magistrate Court.

“As the deputies continued to advise the suspect to open the door, he was observed having some type of communication with his son,” according to the complaint.

The tactical team breached the door before the elder Pinkerman allegedly forcibly closed it while speaking with his son.

The door was breached again when Michael Lane Pinkerman II began firing upon deputies, according to the complaint. Johnston and Cremeans were struck as the tactical team maintained their positions in an attempt to enter the home. They entered and then fatally shot Michael Lane Pinkerman II.

The elder Pinkerman was struck by gunfire in the hand and in the hip while attempting to block entry into the home, according to the complaint. His actions allowed his son to commit attempted murder against the deputies, Zerkle said.

Michael Lane Pinkerman was released from the hospital Thursday and charged with two counts of attempt to commit a felony and accessory to attempted first-degree murder. He was being held Thursday afternoon in Western Regional Jail in lieu of a $300,000 cash-only bail.

Zerkle said it’s a miracle the deputies were not more seriously injured. He thanked the community for their prayers and outpouring of support. Counselors would be available at the sheriff’s office this week and would be available to help the deputies involved in the shooting, he said.

“The last thing we need is when we get in that situation again and we get in a stack and have to go through another door, that nobody (freezes) up on us and we will be ready to go again,” he said. “So it’s vital that we get our people’s heads right.”

The West Virginia State Police is investigating the shooting and has taken over the scene, which is protocol in officer-involved shootings, Zerkle said. Deputies were not wearing body cameras at the time, but there were security cameras at the Pinkermans’ home that possibly captured the shooting, he said.

Deputies were working to retrieve that footage. They were also trying to determine if the 9 mm handgun that was fired at deputies is the same handgun used in the shooting at the volunteer fire department.

It’s believed they are the same gun because the fire department was shot 13 times with bullets from a 9 mm handgun, the exact number of bullets that Pinkerman’s gun could carry.

Travis Crum is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. He may be reached by phone at 304-526-2801.

Indoor trick-or-treat option allows for Halloween celebration

HUNTINGTON — Earlier this week, as cities and counties across the state began rescheduling their trick-or-treat times because of the threat of inclement weather, organizers decided to move the 28th annual Huntington Safe Trick-or-Treat indoors to the Big Sandy Superstore Arena.

The event was offered on Halloween night, when most other festivities had been postponed. This is the second time the event has been moved indoors in the event’s 28-year history, according to a news release from the city of Huntington.

Safe Trick-or-Treat, presented by Kindred Communications, the Cabell County Commission, Hoops Family Children’s Hospital and Huntington Junior College, features dozens of community leaders, businesses, civic groups and first responders joining together to pass out candy to Tri-State children in a controlled environment.

For those who still want the thrill of trekking through neighborhoods costumed and in search of treats, opportunities exist this weekend. In Cabell County, including Huntington (and Westmoreland), Barboursville and Milton, trick-or-treat will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday. In Wayne County, including Ceredo and Kenova, trick-or-treat will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday.

Up-to-date trick-or-treat times in the Tri-State can be found at Herald-Dispatch.com.

People seeking ACA insurance coverage advised to look closely at plans

HUNTINGTON — An insurance broker is advising Lawrence County, Ohio, residents who plan to enroll for Affordable Care Act health insurance coverage to look closely at offered plans to determine whether health care providers they use in neighboring West Virginia are included in their networks.

Joel Thompson, an independent life and health insurance broker based in Kenova, West Virginia, but licensed in Ohio and other neighboring states, says many West Virginia providers in Huntington aren’t included in the plans covering Lawrence County offered on the ACA government insurance exchange.

Open enrollment for ACA coverage in 2020 begins Friday, Nov. 1, and ends Dec. 15.

“Currently, there are two carriers offering Affordable Care Act individual coverage in Lawrence County, but neither of them included Cabell Huntington, St. Mary’s or their associated physician networks among their HMO (health maintenance organization) providers,” Thompson told The Herald-Dispatch.

All of those providers are based in West Virginia.

The carriers offering plans for Lawrence County residents are Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, which has by far the lowest rates, according to Thompson, but only has providers based in Ohio, and CareSource.

“This will mean the closest network hospital will be Southern Ohio Medical Center in Portsmouth,” Thompson said.

“There will be another carrier available to Lawrence County consumers, Molina Healthcare, but it likewise does not list Cabell Huntington Hospital or St. Mary’s (Medial Center) in its network,” Thompson added. “It does include one West Virginia hospital: Jackson General in Ripley.”

Both Ashland hospitals, King’s Daughters Medical Center and Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital, are in the CareSource and Molina networks for Ohio.

“Although CareSource does offer network coverage for all local hospitals to West Virginia residents, both of them in Ashland and both of them in Huntington, the Huntington institutions are excluded for marketplace members in Kentucky and Ohio,” he said. “The only major West Virginia provider currently in the Kentucky and Ohio CareSource networks is Valley Health.”

Generally, those covered by insurance will pay more out of their own pockets for services provided by providers who not in the HMO networks.

Thompson said to prevent confusion, individuals should know that CareSource has separate networks for its marketplace, Medicaid and Medicare Advantage clientele. Marketplace members are people who enroll in individual coverage through HealthCare.gov.

“This issue pertains specifically to marketplace coverage,” he said.

Messages left for CareSource, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield and Molina Healthcare were not returned.

Mountain Health Network, which owns both Cabell Huntington Hospital and St. Mary’s Medical Center, sent a statement via email when asked by The Herald-Dispatch about coverage for Lawrence County residents through the government insurance exchange health plans.

“Members who select an Anthem plan may have care received at Cabell Huntington Hospital and St. Mary’s Medical Center covered through the Blue Cross Blue Shield Network,” Greg Wageman, director of managed care at Cabell Huntington Hospital, said in the email. “However, the plan may redirect them to an Ohio facility if the care is reasonably available and the plan has a contract with the Ohio facility.”

The Affordable Care Act states that emergency care must be delivered at any facility, whether it is in network or out of network, and paid at in-network rates.

Mountain Health Network did not respond to attempts for an interview for further clarification and follow-up questions.

“I’m hoping attention will cause the network limitations to be eased as I help Lawrence County residents, as well as northeast Kentuckians, enroll in their ACA coverage over the next month and a half,” Thompson said.

In West Virginia, CareSource is offering plans in 44 counties, while Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield remains the only company serving all 55 counties via the government insurance exchange.

Free assistance in West Virginia with enrollments is available from community assisters, navigators working with First Choice Services and certified agents. A full list of helpers, broken down by county, is posted at wvinsurance.gov or can be accessed by calling toll-free at 888-879-9842.

In Kentucky, two insurers are continuing to offer coverage in the exchange, CareSource and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield.

CareSource is expanding its coverage area in Kentucky for 2020, so residents in 56 counties will be able to choose from both Anthem and CareSource. Residents in the other 64 counties will only have one insurer offering plans, although there will still be multiple plan options available, since insurers offer a variety of plans.

For information about Kentucky’s health insurance marketplace, visit online at https://www.healthinsurance.org/kentucky-state-health-insurance-exchange/.

To look at the rates for available ACA carriers and estimates of the net premiums based on household income, go online at KyHealthPlanFinder.com, OhHealthPlanFinder.com and WvHealthPlanFinder.com.

To find a list of all the local brokers certified to enroll consumers, visit online at localhelp.healthcare.gov. To enroll, go to the website HealthCare.gov.

Follow reporter Fred Pace at Facebook.com/FredPaceHD and via Twitter @FredPaceHD.

MU board gets look at future ballpark

HUNTINGTON — On the heels of the homecoming weekend groundbreaking, the Marshall University Board of Governors on Thursday got a better look at what the school’s future baseball stadium will look like from the architect.

Justin Gaa, senior project designer with AECOM in Kansas City, Missouri, presented renderings of the stadium to the board during its regularly scheduled meeting Thursday. AECOM, an infrastructure firm, also designed the Veterans Memorial Soccer Complex and the Chris Cline Indoor Athletic Facility for Marshall, along with hundreds of other sports complexes across the country, from collegiate to professional.

“Mike (Hamrick) really challenged us to create something state-of-the-art,” Gaa said, referring to Marshall’s athletic director. “He challenged us in a lot of ways.”

The 3,000-seat stadium, which can be expanded to 3,500 seats for postseason play, will feature three levels, artificial turf, two full-size batting cages, three locker rooms, a team lounge, an indoor and outdoor club with box suites, and an open and transparent concourse.

“As you know, the Division I level is highly competitive,” Gaa said. “This facility is going to be exciting not only as a campus asset for athletics, but a community asset. … On the student-athlete side, we were very mindful of how we used the space, so recruiting students was part of the design process.”

The stadium will house coaches’ offices and training space for athletes, which Gaa said is an effective way to build a ballpark.

The main lobby will move guests through the stadium in a “unique way,” Gaa said, and will be designed to honor legendary Marshall baseball coach Jack Cook.

The ballpark will be located along 5th Avenue just east of Joan C. Edwards Stadium at the site of the former Flint Group Pigments property. The university purchased the land from the Huntington Municipal Development Authority for a total cost of $468,000.

The $22 million stadium, along with the land, is being funded by donations raised by the athletic department.

Athletics still needs to raise about $20 million for the project, which is anticipated to be complete by 2021.

At Thursday’s meeting, board member James Farley encouraged board members to donate to the “Marshall Rises” capital fundraising campaign, which will help fund the stadium and the future College of Business building. The university announced the campaign Saturday during the homecoming football game, encouraging alumni to donate to get the already $100 million raised to $150 million.

“It’s up to alums and people involved to get it done,” Farley said.

Marshall has played baseball at several facilities, including St. Cloud Commons in the city’s West End and George Smailes Field off W.Va. Route 2, 7 miles from campus. The Herd also has played “home” games at Appalachian Power Park in Charleston, Linda Epling Stadium in Beckley and high school fields in Kentucky and Ohio.

Construction plans have been finalized and will be advertised in November, with bidding opening Dec. 19.

Follow reporter Taylor Stuck on Twitter and Facebook @TaylorStuckHD.