Witnesses' description of the hitchhiker is vague at best, only that he was an adult male who may have a physical or mental impairment.
“If anyone has any information as to his identity, he is sought as a witness,” said Detective Brian Nolen, adding that the man is frequently seen in the area hitchhiking or walking in the middle of the road. “We'd like to figure out who he is so we can talk to him.”
According to a report from the sheriff's office, a Portsmouth Police officer was flagged down in Sciotoville and was told that 33-year-old Gary Salyers, of Beaver, was shot as the car was traveling on Swauger Valley Road where Salyers had visited his grandmother.
Detectives went to the hospital to investigate and were told Salyers and three other people were traveling on the road when they heard a loud noise and the back window of their vehicle was blown out.
Salyers told officers he was sitting in the back seat and realized he had been shot in the head. The four then fled the area.
Nolen said that the man is not a suspect since witnesses in the car saw him in front of the vehicle when the back window was blown out. There was a vehicle behind Salyers' at the time of the shooting but witnesses were unable to give a description of it.
“We figure the vehicle must be the suspect, I don't know how the pedestrian in front of them could have shot out the back window,” Nolen said. “He is sought as a witness only.”
Nolen said that Salyers was taken to St. Mary's Hospital in Huntington, W.Va. and was told he was in stable condition and expected to be released on Wednesday.
The investigation is continuing and anyone with information on the incident can contact Nolen at the sheriff's office detective division at (740) 355-8245. All calls will remain confidential.
MARK SHAFFER can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 235.