Charleston, WV – An armed woman fatally shot an active shooter who opened fire at a graduation party on Wednesday night, according to police.
The incident occurred during a celebration at the Vista View Apartment Complex located in the 1300-block of Renaissance Circle on May 25, Charleston Police Chief Tyke Hunt told Metro News.
Witnesses said 37-year-old convicted felon Dennis Butler had been confronted earlier in the night about speeding in the area while children were playing outside.
Butler left, but showed up back at the apartment complex at approximately 10:45 p.m. armed with an “AR-style rifle,” Chief Hunt told Metro News.
That’s when he opened fire on the dozens of partygoers congregated at the complex, WCHS reported.
Many of those in attendance were juveniles.
“He returned with a firearm, an AR-style rifle, and fired in the direction of the crowd,” the chief told Metro News.
One partygoer was armed with her own handgun and returned fire, hitting the attacker multiple times and fatally wounding him, WCHS reported.
No one else was injured.
Charleston Police Department (CPD) Chief of Detectives Tony Hazelett praised the armed citizen for quickly taking action and eliminating the danger.
“Instead of running from the threat, she engaged with the threat and saved several lives last night,” Chief Hazelett told WCHS. “This lady was carrying a lawful firearm, a law-abiding citizen who stopped this threat of 20-30 people getting killed.”
Chief Hunt said the woman who shot Butler is not currently facing any charges, but noted it was too early to determine whether or not the incident was a case of self-defense, Metro News reported.
“It looks like the person who fired upon Mr. Butler does not have any reason to prohibit them from carrying a firearm lawfully,” he said.
Chief Hunt said officers are still investigating the incident, to include locating where all the rounds Butler fired wound up, Metro News reported.
He said Butler was well-known to local law enforcement, and recalled having personally dealt with him as far back as 16 years ago.
“As a young police officer, I was a rookie and had about a year on, one of the most knocked-down dragged out fights I had was with Mr. Butler and he had a firearm on him at that time in 2006,” Chief Hunt told Metro News.
The chief said Butler, a “multi-time convicted felon” who had “been to prison a few times,” had a “propensity towards violence.”
He was accused of shooting a pistol-whipping a 19-year-old woman back in 2016, but those charges were ultimately dismissed after witnesses failed to testify, WSAZ reported.
The investigation into the shooting will be turned over to the Kanawha County Prosecutor’s Office to determine whether or not the woman who shot Butler will face charges, Metro News reported.