A Fayette County ginseng trafficker faces a charge of felony wanton endangerment after he allegedly fired a shot at Natural Resources Police officers trying to serve a warrant.
Capt. W.W. Brogan III of the Beckley detachment said that Bill Wolfe, who lives in the Oak Hill area, was arrested on the night of Sept. 12 after a 15- to 20-minute standoff with 11 officers.
“The warrants we were attempting to serve on Mr. Wolfe were related to illegal ginseng activity,” Brogan said. “When the officers went to arrest Mr. Wolfe at his residence, he would not comply with any of their commands. He became agitated and angry, and ultimately fired a shot at the officers.”
The officers fell back and set up what Brogan calls “a containment area” around the house.
“Mr. Wolfe barricaded himself in his home. Our officers were able to get a family member to talk to him. He eventually came to reason and came out with his hands up,” Brogan said.
Wolfe was charged with wanton endangerment, obstructing an officer, and multiple misdemeanors related to the ginseng, Brogan said.
Asked why so many officers were sent to serve the warrants, Brogan said law enforcement personnel were aware they could face “a volatile situation.”
“A lot of money and valuables were involved,” he said. “We knew he was poised to protect those, whether from would-be thieves or anyone else.”
Brogan said the officers didn’t return fire because “they had planned the arrest well and had a good back-up plan.”
“They were on their ‘A’ game,” he continued. “They were able to position themselves and give the subject every opportunity to give up. The last thing we wanted was to get someone hurt or to hurt someone.”
Wolfe was arrested and taken to the Southern Regional Jail. Brogan said he didn’t know if Wolfe had been arraigned as of late Monday afternoon.
Brogan would not disclose how much ginseng was recovered at Wolfe’s home. “All I can say is that the investigation is ongoing,” he said.
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