A Virginia State Police trooper was shot in the hand yesterday in a scuffle with a 16-year-old Falls Church youth who, minutes before, allegedly led police on a chase through Prince William County in a stolen van, police officials said.
Trooper M.C. Wilkinson was in stable condition yesterday at Potomac Hospital in Woodbridge after surgery, a hospital spokeswoman said.
The shooting occurred after a crash in which a young man, who police declined to identify because of his age, drove a van into a cement truck while trying to elude Wilkinson and three other troopers who pursued him on Rte. 234 near Dumfries, according to a spokesman for the state police. Neither the youth or Douglas L. Bailey, the driver of the cement truck owned by the Virginia Concrete Co., was injured in the crash.
Wilkinson was shot shortly after 7 a.m. as troopers tried to remove the youth from the van, according to Robert C. Martin, a state police agent investigating the shooting. Martin said he did not know who fired the shots that hit Wilkinson or from whose gun they came. "I cannot answer that," Martin said. "That will be under investigation until we talk to everyone who was there."
A statewide petition for the youth's arrest was issued Sunday after the youth failed to return to the Great Bridge Detention Center in Chesapeake, Va., after a holiday furlough, Martin said.
The 1970 Ford van the youth was driving had been reported stolen to the Falls Church police yesterday morning, a spokesman said. The van came to Wilkinson's attention when a motorist reported over a citizens band radio channel that a vehicle was driving south in an erratic fashion on I-95, said state police Sgt. D.P. Garrett. Wilkinson stopped the van, Garrett said, but the youth sped away soon thereafter, leaving I-95 on Rte. 234.
As the car sped north for about 1 1/2 miles on Rte. 234, often in the wrong lane, three troopers joined in the chase, Garrett said. Shortly before the crash, a state police car driven by Trooper R.J. Tershak sideswiped the van, according to state police Sgt. S.B. Copeland.
The youth was arrested yesterday and arraigned on a car theft charge in Fairfax County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. He also was charged with possession of drugs and reckless driving.