CHAPMANVILLE — “This just gets stranger and stranger.”
That was the comment of a state fire official when contacted about the brawl that happened at Chapmanville Regional High School on Sat., Dec. 14. It was that melee that resulted in the subsequent arrest of Logan High School head basketball Coach Mark Hatcher and the suspension of two players.
Now, however, revelations following the publication of a Logan Banner photo of Hatcher being led from the CRHS floor by two “police officers,” have caused even more comment.
The game itself involved Logan and Corridor G rival Scott. Following a missed shot, two opposing players became entangled fighting for the rebound and a fight ensued. Eventually, police officers, coaches and what have now been identified as two spectators ran onto the floor. One spectator was said to be from Logan.
The other has now been identified as a 16-year-old CRHS student who actually turned 17 in September. The student, whose name is not being used in this story, appeared to be in a sheriff’s department uniform and clearly stood in the corner of the gymnasium throughout the game with members of the Chapmanville police department and Logan County deputies.
Reporters and photographers at the scene assumed the lad was a full-fledged sheriff’s deputy. But, subsequently, Logan Sheriff Sonya Porter and Chief Deputy M. Mayes denied knowledge of why the student was dressed in a police outfit. They also denied that he has ridden in patrol cars with the deputies and routinely worked with them on traffic incidents.
But friends of the boy’s family say those police stories are not true and they say the social medium, Facebook, proves it. In addition, he and family members have claimed the boy is a member of the Chapmanville Fire Department.
If that’s true, it is not according to rules and regulations, according to a state fire official.
“He can be a junior fireman at 16,” the official said. “He cannot be a full fireman and he cannot go out on a fire or operate any fire equipment until he turns 18.”
Asked if that prohibition included operating the ladder that was used during the memorial services for the late Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum, the official responded, “he would not have been entitled to operate the ladder. No.” Friends of the boy reported that he did, in fact, run the ladder during that service.
All connected with this story have verified that they believe the young man is “sincere and a good kid.” Family members insist if anyone is at fault in his conduct, it is members of the sheriff’s department and fire department who encouraged him to act as he did.
“I guarantee you, they (officials) were asked if they were sure it was okay for him to do what he was doing and they all said, ‘yes.”’ said one family member.
The boy has attended the State Police Youth Academy and even was named a “Hometown Hero” by WSAZ-TV3 for his community service.
Facebook shows some of the certificates the boy has earned in the fire and law enforcement fields and shows him in full fire uniform. Two photos show him in what is labeled a Logan County Sheriff’s vehicle, riding in the passenger seat with what looks like a regular deputy in the driver’s seat. He appears to be wearing the same outfit he was wearing at the Scott-Logan game.
The boy is a football player at CRHS and some in Logan have speculated that Hatcher was charged by Chapmanville town police because of the rivalry between the communities of Logan and Chapmanville. However, video of the incident clearly shows that Hatcher pushed a Chapmanville town police officer. He is charged with assault and battery on a police officer.
Hatcher is free on bond and no hearing date had been set at press time.
Calls for Chapmanville Fire Chief Tommy Perry were not returned at press time. A fireman who answered the phone at the station said he was not aware of who the 17-year-old was but the department was preparing for a holiday dinner later in the day.