Suspect and woman killed identified in violent Charleston crime spree

CHARLESTON, W.Va. –A Kanawha County man will be charged with several felonies including murder and attempted murder of a police officer following a violent crime spree Tuesday on Charleston’s West Side.

Charleston Police Chief James Hunt

Charleston Police Chief Tyke Hunt released the name of the suspect, Joshua Andrew Drennen, 27, of Clendenin, during a Wednesday appearance on MetroNews “Talkline.”

According to the Charleston Police Department, Drennen is accused of murdering Barbara Steele, 77 of Charleston, at her residence. The investigation revealed she died from blunt force trauma to the head.

Hunt said Drennan remains hospitalized after being shot twice by Patrolman Terrence “Austin” Casto. Drennen underwent surgery at CAMC General, Hunt said.

Officer Casto continues to recover at home after being attacked by Drennen with an antique flat iron.

“We’ve had a lot of ongoing contact just to ensure that he’s recovering. He’s at home with his family doing the best that he can. It did have to receive medical care which, of course, I can’t disclose but I do expect him to return to work soon,” Hunt said.

Hunt also released the names of the victim of the car jacking at the Walgreens on Washington Street West, Jackie Pritchford, 77, and the victim of the attempted carjacking at the Go Mart on Pennsylvania Avenue, Arthur Martin Jr.

CPD said Pritchford sustained blunt force trauma to her head and was transported to a local hospital for treatment. Martin was uninjured.

Hunt said the string of events was a violent crime spree. He said Casto was doing his job.

“You never know what you’re going to pull up on. Officer Casto wasn’t fully aware of the type of individual he was approaching when he got out of the car. He was not clear on everything that had transpired, none of us were at the time until we started to go back and link everything together,” Hunt said.

Charleston police detectives are investigating the West Side murder, car jacking and attempted car jacking. Kanawha County deputies are investigating the attack on Casto and the shooting of Drennen.