Last updated: July 07. 2014 6:46PM - 1513 Views
Beth Sergent bsergent@civitasmedia.com



Jonathan Jeffers
Jonathan Jeffers
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GALLIPOLIS FERRY — A Mason County man law enforcement have been searching for since June 24 has been found.


Jonathan Jeffers, 29, was apprehended at a trailer on Shad Lane in Ashton on Monday, according to the Mason County Sheriff’s Department.


Back on June 24, deputies were reportedly called to a home on Jolly Rd. in the Ashton area where Jeffers was accused of allegedly having a gun and making threats. When deputies arrived on scene, he allegedly fired a shot and ran away into the woods.


This incident kicked off a search for Jeffers which involved the sheriff’s department and West Virginia State Police. On Monday, the sheriff’s department reported its deputies, along with the West Virginia State Police K-9 unit, responded to the residence on Shad Lane and were able to locate Jeffers.


Jeffers was placed under arrest on felony and misdemeanor warrants and transported to the Western Regional Jail where he remained as of Monday evening. His bond has been set at $50,000 in Mason County Magistrate Court.


According to the West Virginia State Police, Jeffers was on home confinement last year and in December cut off his home confinement bracelet. Earlier this year, state police say he became engaged in a domestic incident with his father and active warrants are pending concerning that incident. Prior to allegedly shooting at Deputy Stewart of the Mason County Sheriff’s Department on June 24, Jeffers had been involved in a domestic incident with his wife, according to state police.


While attempting to apprehend Jeffers on Monday, two marijuana plants were found on the back of the property, according to the sheriff’s department. As a result, the resident owner, Rex D. Cupp, 36, Ashton, was placed under arrest for manufacturing a controlled substance along with a capias warrant. He was also transported to the Western Regional Jail. His bond has been set at $10,000 in Mason County Magistrate Court.


This case took on a strange twist soon after Jeffers went on the run when a trooper with the West Virginia State Police shot and killed a dog belonging to Ginger and Jeremy Sweat in the Ashton area during the search for Jeffers. The West Virginia State Police released an official statement about the incident, saying when searching for Jeffers, troopers with the West Virginia State Police Special Response Team emerged onto a road from the wooded area when a small beagle type dog came out of the weeds and attempted to bite K-9 Diego.


The response states: “Diego began barking at the beagle and it ran toward the Sweat residence. A very large white and brown dog weighing nearly 100 pounds, now known to be Willie Pete, charged from behind the residence toward the members of the WVSP SRT team who were in the road. Mrs. Sweat came out on her porch and took the beagle inside, Sgt. S. T. Harper yelled at Mrs. Sweat to get her dog on two occasions as Willie Pete advanced in an aggressive manner. As Mrs. Sweat was securing the beagle, Willie Pete continued toward K-9 Diego while doing so Willie Pete growled and bared his teeth. Sgt. Harper moved between Willie Pete and K-9 Diego who was on leash. Sgt. Harper attempted to thwart Willie Pete’s aggression by body blocking him from K-9 Diego and by kicking gravel at the dog. Finally, when Willie Pete was within 10 feet of K-9 Diego and approximately five feet from Sgt. Harper and still advancing, Sgt. Harper shot him three times. The dog continued acting aggressively after the first two shots requiring Sgt. Harper to shoot a third time. The dog then ran back behind the Sweat residence after the third shot. All three shots were fired when the dog was within 4-6 feet of Sgt. Harper. Sgt. Harper was firing at a sharp downward angle due to the dog’s proximity and therefore was not firing toward any of the residences or people. Further, the evidence clearly shows that the Sgt. Harper only fired upon the dog while the dog was in the roadway.”


Afterwards, officers followed the dog behind the house where it had died. After apologizing to Mr. and Mrs. Sweat for having to kill their dog, the officers assisted the family by helping them bury Willie Pete.


The statement also said: “Sgt. S.T. Harper has been a member of the West Virginia State Police K-9 Unit for 14 years. During the first 12 years he was a K-9 handler and in the last two years he has been a K-9 Instructor. Sgt. Harper has been around dogs all of his life. He works with dogs daily both as a K-9 handler and trainer and with his personal dogs. Sgt. Harper is well-versed in canine body language and canine behavior. Based upon his observations that Willie Pete’s hackles were raised, he was growling and his teeth were barred as well as the fact that the dog could not be deterred by two other means of non-lethal force from advancing toward K-9 Officer Diego and the WVSP SRT members, Sgt. Harper made the decision to shoot the dog.”


In addition, the release said: “The West Virginia State Police is extremely sorry for the loss of Willie Pete’s life and the loss sustained by his family. The Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association has approached the West Virginia State Police and provided a voucher to be given to the Sweat family for the adoption of a dog from the Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association Shelter on Greenbrier Street in Charleston, West Virginia. The voucher provides for the adoption of a dog that would be spayed or neutered and have its initial vaccinations and rabies shot.”


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