A Middlebourne man is being held in the Northern Regional Jail on $70,000 bond as he is facing the felony of threats of terroristic act and two counts of felony wanton endangerment.
Ralph Duane Harter, 63, of Rt. 1 Box 166A, Middlebourne, had his initial appearance in Wetzel County Magistrate Court before Magistrate Judith Goontz Monday. The charges stem from an incident on Nov. 27 when Harter allegedly used glue and white toilet paper to cover surveillance equipment on the exterior of the Paden City Detachment of the West Virginia State Police located at the intersection of state Routes 2 and 180. Glue was also applied to the front locking mechanism of the building and three white plastic bags were found on the property.
Upon investigation, WVSP Cprl. C.J. Lantz observed bullet holes within the housing of the exterior heat pump and retaining railing located at the rear of the facility. He also recovered an intact bullet from the area. According to the criminal complaint, Lantz's review of the surveillance footage provides evidence of "two audible gun shots approximately two minutes following the subject's departure from the camera's view."
The wanton endangerment charges stem from surveillance footage showing there were cars traveling on both nearby roadways at the time of the incident.
Lantz believed he recognized the subject in the video footage as Harter. Tyler County Deputy M.A. Corley agreed with that identification. Both law enforcement officers had contact with Harter previously. "On this occasion," writes Lantz in the complaint, "the defendant made a complaint that he was unsatisfied with the Tyler County Sheriff's Office's handling of a recent complaint. The defendant eluded to threats for the failure to help him and the utilizing of Army personnel to "take care of his problems.'"
An internet search shows Harter is a retired Army Ranger who served in Vietnam from 1967-68. A letter he wrote to River Currents, a publication of the Mobile Riverine Force Association, in 2009 said he got in Vietnam on Oct. 20, 1967, and was wounded on Dec. 15, 1967. He was taken to a hospital in Japan, where he remained until April 1968.
Harter had made a complaint with Deputy Corley about an unknown individual shooting his bulldozers with either an AK-47 or .308 caliber rifles.
On Dec. 7 Lantz "obtained a digitally recorded statement from the defendant who stated that he had been upset that nobody was taking his case and done the damage at the WVSP detachment in Wetzel County, and utilized a Ruger 357 revolver to fire the rounds."