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Press Release

Woman Accused of Federal Gun Crime in Connection with Fatal Shootout with Nicholas County Law Enforcement

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – United States Attorney Will Thompson announced today that a Nicholas County woman has been charged with a federal gun crime related to the June 3, 2022, shooting that left one Nicholas County sheriff’s deputy dead and another wounded.

Melanie Clodfelter, 41, of Summersville, is charged with providing a firearm to a felon. The criminal complaint alleges that on November 17, 2021, Clodfelter purchased a Radical Firearms, model RF-15, multi-caliber rifle for Richie Holcomb.

Holcomb was prohibited from possessing a firearm because of a July 30, 2014, felony conviction for unlawful wounding in Webster County Circuit Court. The criminal complaint alleges that Clodfelter was aware of Holcomb’s previous conviction and that he was unable to buy the firearm himself.

Nicholas County Sheriff’s Deputy Thomas Edward Baker III was killed and Corporal Joshua Ellison was wounded in an exchange of gunfire after responding to a domestic disturbance in the Birch River area on June 3, 2022. Holcomb, 36, was fatally shot in the incident.

“Our law enforcement officers face uncertainty each and every day as they perform their duties and protect our communities. The crime alleged in this complaint underscores that grim reality,” Thompson said. “I commend the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for its swift and thorough investigative action in this case.”

“The ATF Charleston Field Office assisted the Nicholas County Sheriff's Office and the West Virginia State Police in response to the shooting of two deputies," said ATF Special Agent in Charge Shawn Morrow of the Louisville Division, which covers West Virginia.  "Special agents, with the support of the ATF National Tracing Center, conducted an investigation resulting in federal firearms charges against Melanie Clodfelter. Federal law prohibits felons from receiving or possessing firearms, and this tragic incident shows why. ATF and the U.S. Attorney's Office, along with our law enforcement partners, will work together to hold accountable those who enable violent crime in our communities.”

Clodfelter was arrested on June 4, 2022. She made an initial appearance on June 7, 2022, before United States Magistrate Judge Dwayne L. Tinsley, who scheduled her preliminary hearing for June 14, 2022. Clodfelter faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Assistant United States Attorney Alex Hamner is handling the prosecution.

Note: The charge contained in the complaint is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia. Related court documents and information can be found on PACER by searching for Case No. 2:22-mj-69.






Updated June 9, 2022

Firearms Offenses