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Wanton endangerment latest gun-related crime in downtown Morgantown

One man is charged with wanton endangerment involving a firearm after he allegedly brandished a handgun during an interaction with another man inside Jimmy John’s on High Street in Morgantown.

Morgantown police responded to the late-night sandwich shop at about 3:19 a.m. Saturday morning after receiving reports that a male had come into the store and brandished a handgun and reportedly stated he was “looking for some guys.”

On scene, officers identified the man as Joseph Isaiah Coston, 22, of Star City.  According to a criminal complaint, officers had already “dealt with Coston earlier in the night when he stated he had been punched in the face and wanted to go find the guy.”

During the previous encounter, Coston had told police he did not want to pursue charges against the person who had hit him.

Patrolman Bittner, who filed the complaint, said due to previous encounters with police, Coston was known to carry a Glock handgun.  The officer said the gun was found and removed from Coston’s waistband and one unfired round was in the chamber.

After speaking with store employees, officers said they were able to view security footage where Coston can be seen entering Jimmy John’s with his right hand on his handgun, which was still concealed in his waistband.

The video shows another man approach Coston.  A few seconds later, “Coston then brandishes his handgun and points it in the direction of the male.”

Police said Coston continued the interaction with the unknown male, keeping the gun in the open, while others in the store could be seen backing away and leaving in fear.

Officers reported the video showed that at one point during the interaction Coston “raises his handgun back up and racks the slide, indicating that he was loading a round into his handgun to use it.”

The complaint said the interaction between the two continued, but the handgun was put back into Coston’s waistband before police arrived. 

Coston entered an initial plea of not guilty to wanton endangerment involving a firearm in Monongalia County Magistrate Court on Nov. 19.  He was released after posting the required 10% of a $5,000 personal recognizance bond.

This is not the first incident involving a firearm recently in the Morgantown area.  Earlier this month, shootings occurred downtown on consecutive weekends, each leaving a victim wounded.

Deputy Chief of Police P.J. Scott said those two shootings are still under investigation.

On Nov. 5, one person was shot in the leg at the intersection of Chestnut and Fayette streets after a male wearing a ski mask fired the shots at the victim and then fled on foot.

That incident followed an Oct. 30 shooting, during which a victim was hit by gunfire during an altercation at The Bank, a bar on High Street.

The deputy chief did not comment on whether the department has seen an increase in gun-related violence in the past few months.

Scott said no arrests have been made relating to either incident.  Anyone who may have information regarding either incident is asked to contact the MPD Detective Division at 304-284-7454.

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