By RACHEL DOVE-BALDWIN
HURLEY, Va. - A Norfolk Southern (NS) Railway Locomotive Engineer who was allegedly shot by an unknown assailant while separating three locomotives from a train in the Weller Railroad Yard near Hurley, Va., last Thursday has reportedly admitted to the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Department (BCSD) that the gunshot wound he suffered was self-inflicted.
Charges are pending against Mark D. Jarrell, 41, of Canada, Ky., that include providing false information to a police officer by the BCSD based in Grundy, Va. Sheriff Ray Foster told the Daily News that Jarrell had admitted to shooting himself after several details uncovered during the investigation failed to make sense.
“He spoke with our investigators after he went home from the hospital,” said Foster. “We discussed evidence with him that we had uncovered and when he was informed of the details, he admitted the gunshot wound was self-inflicted but he failed to tell us why his original claim was that someone else had shot him.”
Jarrell was air-lifted to the Holston Valley Medical Center in Kingsport, Tenn., following the incident, where he was treated for a gunshot wound to his chest that resulted in a bullet being lodged in his left shoulder region. He was released from the hospital on Sunday and returned home to recover. Jarrell’s original claim was that an unknown gunman had shot him and that he had crawled back onto the locomotive and radioed for assistance.
According to the sheriff, the investigation is ongoing, and there may be additional charges filed after he sits down with the Virginia Commonwealth Attorney to discuss the case.
“A lot of manpower, time and resources went into this manhunt,” remarked Foster. “We were prepared for the worst when we were called to the scene, especially due to the fact that we had investigated a similar incident in March of 2011 that resulted in two of my deputies losing their lives and two others suffering severe injuries.”
“People fail to realize the circumstances they set in motion when they report a serious crime like this. We even closed the local schools on Friday to protect the students because we thought we had an armed assailant on the loose.”
Robin Chapman, a public relations spokesman for NS, said the railroad was fully cooperating with the BCSD and further stated that any criminal charges against Jarrell, who is still presently employed in the capacity as an engineer, would be through the sheriff’s department. Chapman added NS would be conducting their own investigation in conjunction with that of local law enforcement.
As far as any disciplinary action against Jarrell for this incident, Chapman said NS would not discuss that topic at this time, saying it was a private personnel matter between the employee and employer.
Attempts to reach Jarrell at his home in Canada, Ky., proved to be unsuccessful.