Six days after Monongalia deputies shot and killed a man, the sheriff’s office announced that he was holding a paint spray gun, not a firearm.
In its announcement Friday afternoon, the Monongalia County Sheriff’s Office said Randall Beymer, 62, threatened the deputies with a black “paint can gun.” Deputies described the sprayer as having a pistol-type grip and “a trigger assembly that closely resembled a handgun.”
Five deputies are on administrative leave as an internal investigation continues, the sheriff’s office said.
The sheriff’s office first released a vague statement last Sunday, a day after the shooting, and it said deputies responded to Williams Road, off Fairmont Road, at about 2:40 p.m.
They had received complaints about an armed man on someone’s property.
A standoff ensued, the office said, and deputies opened fire on Beymer.
The first release did not specify how many deputies shot Beymer or whether he actually had a firearm.
The Friday release said officers with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources arrived at the scene first. They encountered Beymer, who allegedly made “threatening gestures.”
“When they ordered him to stop, he reportedly verbalized to them that he would not stop and wanted a confrontation,” the release states.
The sheriff’s office said five deputies then arrived, and that one tried to negotiate with Beymer, who stood behind a tree. The release said body cameras recorded the interaction between Beymer and authorities.
Beymer then lunged toward the closest officer while “extending and pointing the device” at the officer, according to the release.
The deputies, whose names have not been made public, then shot and killed Beymer.
Sheriff Perry Palmer said no further information would be released Friday. He would not take questions from a reporter, and he did not respond to phone calls and emails made Tuesday and Thursday.
Friday’s news release also said the sheriff’s office was conducting a felony investigation against Beymer, although it did not specify what accusations he was facing.
The Gazette-Mail interviewed eight people who knew Beymer, the majority of whom claimed Beymer was facing false criminal accusations, pushing him to a breaking point.
Authorities last arrested Beymer in 2014, according to an email from Lawrence Messina, a spokesman for the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety.
He was booked into the North Central Regional Jail on a charge of possession of a controlled substance and second-offense driving under the influence. The jail released him on bail a day later.
In that incident, deputies responded to 151 Williams Road for reports of a domestic dispute, according to a criminal complaint.
A deputy noticed a parked car with its dome light on, and Beymer soon appeared from behind the house, the complaint said.
Citing Beymer’s glassy eyes and unsteady balance, the deputy decided to do a field sobriety test. After the third test, Beymer walked up to the deputy, turned around and put his hands behind his back.
“I’m getting arrested for DUI because I was smoking pot today,” he was quoted as saying.
Beymer had several pipes and “small amounts of marijuana” in his bedroom, the complaint stated.
Beymer’s friend Chris Daugherty said she was shocked to hear about the events that led to his death. She said she knew him as a fisherman, gardener and kind soul.
She learned about the shooting on social media, about an hour after it happened. Daugherty said she had more questions than answers when the sheriff’s office released its first statement a day later.
Beymer’s mother died in March 2017, and a car wreck killed one of his closest friends in September 2016, Daugherty said.
He overcame those tragedies, she said, adding that many people now wonder what led to the confrontation between Beymer and Monongalia deputies last week.
“I don’t want him to be remembered for what he wasn’t,” she said. “I just don’t want that stigma on him.”
Joshua Shisler, 23, looked at Beymer as a friend and a mentor. Shisler said, if he needed a ride to work or a few extra dollars, he knew where to go. He said Beymer was eager to help anyone in need.
Beymer’s friends said he cared about two things: his friends and his dog, Amber. They were his world, Shisler said, because Beymer never had children.
“It’s too bad I can’t tell him now — he did have one kid,” Shisler said. “I really considered that man like my dad.”