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West Virginia state trooper, suspect killed in shootout following traffic stop

A state trooper is dead and two officers are wounded during a shootout with a suspect who was later shot and killed in West Virginia. NBCNews.com's Dara Brown reports.

A West Virginia state trooper was shot dead, another was critically wounded, and the suspect they confronted in a traffic stop was also killed in exchanges of gunfire near Charleston on Tuesday night, authorities said.

Details of the two shootouts, which occurred roughly an hour apart along Interstate 79 in Clay County, remained sketchy.

But the deadly chain of events unfolded after a pair of state police officers pulled over a suspect near Wallback, a community about 30 miles northeast of Charleston, and a gunfight ensued, state police Captain Bill Scott said.

The Charleston Gazette newspaper reported that the traffic stop occurred at around 8 p.m. ET. 

According to West Virginia State Police spokesman Sgt. Michael Baylous, the suspect had been driving erratically, The Associated Press reported.

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One trooper was killed and his partner was left in critical condition in the gunfire, Scott said. A tow-truck driver on the scene also was injured.

It was not immediately clear how he was connected to the incident and whether he was struck by gunfire or was otherwise hurt, Scott said.

He was unable to confirm local media reports that the first gunfight erupted when the suspect grabbed the weapon of one of the state troopers.

The suspect then fled a short distance on foot and was subsequently confronted by a sheriff's deputy, Scott said. A second exchange of gunfire at that location left the deputy wounded and the suspect dead. The deputy's injuries were not believed to be life-threatening.

The wounded were taken to CAMC General Hospital, the Gazette reported, quoting Baylous.

Baylous also said the names of those involved in the incident would not be released until their families have been notified, the AP reported.

"This being a rural area, we can't put the names out until we get the chance to talk to everybody," he said according to the AP.

"This tragedy reminds us of the sacrifices that our law enforcement officers make every day to keep us safe," West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin said in a statement quoted by local NBC station WBOY.

The incident is under investigation, police said.

NBC News staff and Reuters contributed to this report.

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