Prosecutors examine shooting evidence

Published 9:54 pm Monday, July 6, 2009

The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office is reviewing the case of the shooting in a Whaleyville store that left a 38-year-old Suffolk man dead.

“We have the police case report,” Will Jamerson, deputy commonwealth’s attorney, said in a phone interview on Monday. “It will be a thorough review.” He would not estimate when the review would be complete.

Police responded to an attempted robbery call at the J&L Food Mart in the 6500 block of Whaleyville Boulevard just after 4 a.m. on June 21, city officials have said.

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James H. Durden Jr., 46, the owner of the store, had been awakened by an alarm system set up to alert him at home if there was motion inside the store. He went to the store with a gun and fired four shots through a window, killing Ernest Scott Roop, 38.

Durden told officers who arrived on scene that he thought he saw the burglar point something at him, according to a search warrant. Police did not find a gun inside the store, but did find a knife in a sheath, as well as a tire iron that was on the floor, though not near the body.

After smelling alcohol on the store owner’s breath, officers gave Durden a breath test, which confirmed the presence of alcohol in his system.

It is up to the commonwealth’s attorney to determine if any charges will be filed. Those charges could range from manslaughter to murder, or none at all.

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