Shooting charge decision unlikely this week

Published 11:36 pm Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Commonwealth’s Attorney C. Phillips Ferguson doesn’t expect to make a decision this week on whether a Whaleyville store owner will be charged with the death of a man who attempted to burglarize the store.

“I’m not pushing them, because I want them to have an opportunity to do everything they need to do,” Ferguson said of the police investigators. “I don’t expect that you’re going to have answers in 48 hours. It’s much better to make sure you’re doing it the right way.”

Ferguson said he has not yet seen the case file for the shooting that happened about 4 a.m. Sunday morning. A call was made to Suffolk emergency communications at 4:04 a.m. from the home of James H. Durden Jr., 46. The caller reported that a burglar was in the J&L Food Mart store, located at 6400 Whaleyville Blvd., and that Durden, who lives within sight of the store, had gone to investigate. Soon, the caller was reporting that shots had been fired, and the person inside was dead.


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Durden knew of the burglary from an alarm system that was set up to alert him at home if there was movement inside the store. The man inside, Ernest Scott Roop, 38, died as a result of four gunshot wounds, said city spokeswoman Debbie George.

Durden told officers who arrived on scene that he thought he saw the burglar point something at him, and he fired his weapon through the window, according to a search warrant filed Monday. Police did not find a gun inside the store or in Roop’s possession, George has said.

After smelling alcohol, officers gave Durden a breath test, which confirmed the presence of alcohol. Monday’s search warrant requested two vials of Durden’s blood.

Roop was convicted in 2003 of possession of burglary tools and statutory burglary. Suspended sentences for those charges were revoked in 2006 and 2008.

Roop will be buried when today in Meadowbrook Memorial Gardens. Among his survivors is one daughter.

A message left at Durden’s home was not returned Wednesday.