ELK CREEK - What began as an altercation ended in the loss of two lives in the Elk Creek community Wednesday evening, with one of the deceased being the brother of Mingo County Commissioner David Baisden.
According to a report provided by West Virginia State Police (WVSP) Trooper C.A. Douglas, the incident began shortly after 9 p.m. when Phillip Gilman, 43, a convicted felon and a convicted sex offender, attacked Alfred Russell Curry, 75, with a claw hammer. Gilman resided in a camper that was located on property owned by Curry on the Left Fork of Elk Creek, near the Town of Delbarton.
The past criminal history of Gilman is a colorful one that includes a prison sentence for first degree murder in the 1990’s and a conviction on charges of 2nd degree sexual assault in 2005. Gilman allegedly shot through the window of a home in 1993, fatally wounding an individual who was asleep on the couch. He was sentenced to 5-18 years in a state prison for the crime, but then tried to escape from prison in 1995 and was ordered to serve an additional 3 years. He was released in 2001 and returned to Mingo County, but did not stay out of trouble for very long. Gilman was found guilty of sexually assaulting a woman in 2005 and was sentenced to 1-3 years in jail. Shortly after serving time for this crime, the defendant relocated to Florida and was arrested in 2009 after failing to register as a sex offender. He had been residing in the Delbarton area for nearly 2 years prior to Wednesday night’s incident.
The events that unfolded are a nightmare for Commissioner Baisden, who had received a phone call from his brother’s neighbor informing him that Gilman had attacked his older sibling with a claw hammer, and said his brother had managed to get away from the attacker and had managed to run a short distance before collapsing in the middle of the road, incapacitated from the severe head injuries he had suffered.
Baisden went to the scene and along with another individual, was attempting to load his brother in his Ford F-150 truck to transport him to the hospital when Gilman allegedly came up from the creek bank, still armed with the hammer, and assaulted Baisden.
“Dave was armed with a handgun and pulled it on Gilman, but stated that he could not bring himself to pull the trigger,” stated fellow Commissioner Greg “Hootie” Smith, speaking on behalf of Baisden. “Gilman then managed to gain possession of Dave’s truck and proceeded to run over Alfred, who was still sitting in the middle of the road.”
Trooper Douglas said that Gilman headed up the road in Baisden’s truck. The commissioner then got into a vehicle with another person and followed behind and met up with Timmy White, a Delbarton Fireman who had heard the 911 call requesting help for Curry. The men returned to the scene and were attempting to render medical aid for the victim when Gilman also came back to the crime scene.
“The suspect once again drove Commissioner Baisden’s truck overtop of Curry, who we believe was already deceased at that time,” stated Douglas. “He then exited the truck and got into a physical altercation with the commissioner that ended when the fireman with Baisden pulled a pistol and proceeded to shoot Gilman twice. The suspect still managed to flee the scene on foot even though he was injured.”
“A short time later, one of our troopers and a Delbarton Police officer encountered Gilman, who charged them with the claw hammer raised above his head and was shot one time in the chest by the patrolman, which caused his death.”
The fireman who had shot Gilman has a valid concealed weapon permit and will not be charged in the shooting, having just cause for his actions.
“What’s causing Dave the most grief is his feelings that if he would have shot Mr. Gilman the first time he was attacked before he stole his truck and ran over Alfred, maybe he could have prevented his brother’s death,” stated Commissioner Smith. “This speaks volumes about the type of character that Dave possesses, and clearly illustrates that even in the worst of situations, he was not able to injure another individual regardless of the situation.”
“Dave cares for his fellow man and could not bring himself to harm Mr. Gilman, even though the man had physically assaulted both he and his brother. He has a good heart and was unable to pull the trigger. That took a lot of restraint on his part.”
“Our hearts break for Dave and his family,” stated Mingo County Commission President John Mark Hubbard. “We are here for whatever he needs and we want him to know how much we admire and respect his character.”
“This goes to show you that none of us ever know what we’re going to have to face in our lives,” stated Mingo County Chief Magistrate Dallas Toler. “We none have the guarantee that we’re going to make it home each evening or wake up in the morning.”
“Dave is close to his family and always looked out for Alfred,” said Toler. “He went to his aid this time and almost lost his own life in the process. He could very easily have been killed by the man who attacked his brother. Timmy White (the Delbarton fireman) is a hero in my book; he shot Mr. Gilman and saved Dave from being seriously injured.”
“Mr. Gilman was given every chance to stand down,” stated the trooper. “He was repeatedly told to drop the weapon and surrender, but he chose to do otherwise. That decision cost him his life.”
Commissioner Baisden asked the Daily News to express his gratitude for the outpouring of support he has received from the residents of Mingo County over the loss of his brother, and said it was times like these that you realized how important it is to have good friends.
“I thank everyone from the bottom of my heart that has called to check on me, or who stopped by the office,” said Baisden. “I can’t tell you how much it has meant to me and my family.”
“Alfred was a simple man who enjoyed the simple things in life; it didn’t take a lot to make him happy. He was a good man who did not deserve what happened. He was my brother – and I loved him. Our family has suffered a great loss.”
Baisden stated he wanted to say a special thank you to the Delbarton Fire Department, the WVSP, Mingo County deputies, EMS and first responders, and anyone else who responded to the scene.
“I appreciate each and every one of you and on behalf of my entire family – we say thank you.”
What the argument between Gilman and Curry stemmed from that put the wheels in motion Wednesday evening may never be known, since both men are now deceased. Gilman’s body has been sent to the State Medical Examiner’s office for toxicology testing to see if he had ingested drugs or alcohol prior to the event that ended his life and reports will be released to the public once they are received.
‘I think there is a distinct possibility that drugs may have played a part in this crime,” stated Trooper Douglas. “It would not surprise me at all if Mr. Gilman tests positive for drugs.”
Funeral arrangements for Curry will be announced by the Chafin Funeral Home in Delbarton as soon as they are completed.