Intruder killed by Suffolk store owner was unarmed


Posted on June 21, 2009 at 2:13 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 30 at 1:26 PM

SUFFOLK -- Police investigators say an intruder shot and killed by the owner of a Suffolk business was not carrying a weapon. A relative says the store owner fired in self-defense.

Autopsy results show Ernest Roop, 38, died of four gunshot wounds, Suffolk spokeswoman Debbie George told on Tuesday.

Police questioned James Durden, the owner of the Citgo station on Whaleyville Blvd., after the shooting early Sunday.

Durden says he got a call from his alarm company around 4:00 a.m., telling him there was an intruder.

He and his wife live nearby and arrived at the store to find a back window shattered and someone moving inside. That someone was 38-year-old Ernest S. Roop, according to police.

Durden, carrying a gun, told police Roop pointed what looked like a gun through a back window. Durden fired several shots, killing Roop.

Durden was questioned but released.

No charges have been filed as the investigation continues.

Court records show that Ernest Roop has a prior conviction on burglary charges in Suffolk and had previously faced drug charges in Portsmouth. Three months ago, Roop was convicted of shoplifting.

Video: Police question store owner who killed unarmed intruder

"He pointed something through the window like a shotgun. So, he fired on him," said Durden's brother William. "(The intruder) could have pointed his finger and it could have looked like a gun in the dark like that, so if you got a gun, go ahead and take him out."

Darleen Clifton, a former employee at the Citgo, said she stands by Durden's quick actions.

"Everyone is looking at the person who got killed. You know, the owner James and Lori, they are both victims too, and I am sure he is not feeling all that great, doing what he felt he had to do," said Clifton.

Suffolk officials say this is a complex case.

"It's going to take some investigation, conferring with the Commonwealth's Attorney to look at every facet," said Suffolk spokeswoman Debbie George.