HUNTINGTON — A Cabell County magistrate has ruled blocking a door and not unlocking it was enough probable cause for the case of a man accused of aiding his son in the shooting of two Cabell County Sheriff’s deputies last week to move forward.
Michael Lane Pinkerman, 56, is charged with two felony counts of attempt to commit a felony and accessory to attempted first-degree murder in the incident, which resulted in his son’s death.
His case was bound over to a grand jury Friday after Cabell County Magistrate Dan Ferguson determined prosecutors had enough probable cause that he probably had committed a crime in the shootout for the charges to move forward. His bond is set at $300,000 cash only.
Pinkerman was arrested Oct. 30 after he was accused of aiding his son, Michael Lane Pinkerman II, in not allowing deputies to enter their Blue Sulphur Road home to execute a search warrant in regards to the Oct. 28 or 29 shooting of the Ona Volunteer Fire Department building and a stolen firearm the younger Pinkerman allegedly possessed. He did so by blocking the family’s back door, authorities said.
As a result, Cpl. Jim Johnston was shot twice in the back, but was protected by his bulletproof vest. Deputy Jared Cremeans was shot through one hand and his shoulder. His other hand was struck by a bullet, and another grazed his head. He was also shot twice in the chest, but was wearing a bulletproof vest.
The investigation into Pinkerman II started after someone shot 13 rounds into the front bay doors of the Ona VFD, where Pinkerman II was a former member. Pinkerman II was pointed to as a suspect by camera footage and firefighter statements.
Testimony at Friday’s preliminary hearing from Deputy Nate Rogers and Johnston, one of the deputies struck by gunfire in the shootout, indicated when officers went to speak with Pinkerman II earlier in the day, he had exited the home with a firearm. Deputies somehow determined that firearm had been stolen, obtained a search warrant and returned with a tactical SWAT team of 12 to 14 deputies later in the day, about 6 p.m.
Laura Pinkerman, 62, wife of Michael Pinkerman, testified she and her husband were clueless about the deputies’ initial visit to the home that day. They had been out of the home until about 4 p.m. while at church. When they returned home, they had not spoken to their son, who was in his room, where she admitted he stored magazines and loaded firearms.
Rogers testified the tactical team arrived at the scene and approached the back of the house in typical formation. They chose the back door because that was from where Pinkerman II had exited the home earlier in the day. Rogers and another deputy got out of line to check an outbuilding and Johnston approached the house with a battering ram and Cremeans behind him. Rogers shortly after rejoined them.
Laura Pinkerman testified she had just finished making dinner when she saw deputies in the front yard. She believed there had been a car wreck or something along the road until she heard banging on the back door.
She went to the door and deputies told her to open the door, but she instead went to put her beagle in a safe place. As she was doing that, her husband stood in front of the door and the incident began.
She said she never heard them identify themselves or say they had a search warrant. She and her husband kept asking what the incident was about and questioned why the officers were there.
Johnston and Rogers said multiple deputies identified themselves, said they had a search warrant and asked both Pinkermans to open the mostly glass door. When they didn’t after multiple commands, Johnston began hitting the door with a battering ram. On the third time, he hit the glass, shattering it. At one point, the door was breached with the ram, the deputies said, but the defendant shut the door and braced himself against it.
Laura Pinkerman said the senior Pinkerman had been trying to open the door, but the door had been jammed and he was unable to do so before they breached the door. She did not see him shut the door, as the deputies testified. She later testified the door had been open.
She said eventually her son came out of an area toward the door. While she was unsure if he had a gun, his stance made her believe he did. A deputy soon yelled out “gun” and then the shooting began, she said.
Rogers saw a muzzle flash from behind the defendant and retreated behind a wood pile before firing back.
Laura Pinkerman said it all happened in seconds.
“I’m just yelling, ‘What do you want? Why are you here? Why did you shoot my son?’” she said. “I’m yelling, ‘Michael. Michael. Talk to me,’ and I didn’t get an answer. I thought he was dead. I said, ‘Why are you killing my son?’”
Rogers testified by this time, the elder Pinkerman had retreated to the kitchen and out of sight. He saw Johnston and Cremeans struggling and feared the worst. Johnston said the two didn’t have anywhere they could retreat, so they returned fire.
“I felt horrible pains in my side area. At that point I realized I was hit. I tripped over the (battering ram) I had dropped. I was falling away from the doorway,” he said. “I remember going to put my hand down to catch me from falling because at that point he was still advancing. I was worried he was going to the doorway, and if I’m lying in front of the doorway I’m an easy target.”
Nearby he saw Cremeans had also been shot. Cremeans ran toward him before the two walked down a hill to where an ambulance had been on standby. The two went to the hospital before Pinkerman II came out of the home.
Rogers said after a ceasefire, the defendant eventually exited the house, complaining he was hurt. While the defendant was combative, he was “passive aggressive” and would not comply with deputy commands, he said. It took several deputies to place him into handcuffs.
Laura Pinkerman later exited the home, dog in hand, and testified she thought her son was dead after seeing blood on the walls and floor and getting no response from him. She testified the elder Pinkermans were then led away from the property as police secured the scene.
She later testified she believed her son died well after the incident, before being cut off at objections.
On Friday, Cabell County Sheriff Chuck Zerkle said both deputies were having successful recoveries.
Johnston has already returned to work and Cremeans is going through rehab and follow-up doctor appointments. Zerkle said he is hopeful Cremeans will soon return to work. He said he expects Cremeans will return to work on light duty.
The elder Pinkerman was also struck by gunfire in the hand and hip, but was released from the hospital.
The defendant will remain housed at Western Regional Jail in Barboursville pending future hearings in his case.
Follow reporter Courtney Hessler at Facebook.com/CHesslerHD and via Twitter @HesslerHD.