Tow truck driver honored for bravery in officer’s killing

December 14, 2012

Tow truck driver Leroy Frank Marker says he believes “there was an angel on my shoulder” the night he confronted a van driver police had stopped on Interstate 70, not knowing the man had just shot two police officers, killing one of them execution style.

Marker, who works at Rusty’s Towing Service in Washington, reached inside the van in an attempt to grab Eli Franklin Myers’ keys to prevent him from driving off and then punched out the driver’s side window as Myers pulled onto I-70.

“I probably would not have confronted him if I had known he had a gun,” Marker said Friday, a month after he was honored by American Towman for his courage and professionalism on that tragic Dec. 18, 2011, night when East Washington police Officer John David Dryer was murdered.

Myers, 58, also shot Dryer’s partner, Robert V. Caldwell III, in the right hand after Dryer pulled him over for driving an unregistered vehicle without insurance. Myers first shot Dryer in the groin, and then turned and shot Caldwell before standing over Dryer and firing another bullet into his head. Myers fled to his home in Webster, Westmoreland County, where a police sharpshooter shot and killed him in a standoff as he stepped outside after police had filled his house with tear gas.

When Marker pulled onto the I-70 scene after 11 p.m., he suspected police were there investigating an accident.

“I thought, ‘What the heck is going on?’” said Marker, who saw one of the police cars driving off as he arrived.

He then attempted to stop Myers from leaving, and it was only after Myers sped off that he turned, walked toward the berm and saw the body of a police officer.

Only later did he learn Caldwell, who was driving the car he saw leaving the scene, had been injured, had run out of ammunition and feared he, too, would be killed by Myers.

Police never established a motive for the shooting. Myers had been a police officer in West Newton during the 1970s, was a gun collector and had a spotty work history in recent years. Not long before the shooting, he had been cited by police in the Mon Valley for the same reasons Dryer pulled him over at the I-70 interchange at Beau Street in South Strabane Township.

Marker was taken to the state police barracks that night and helped investigators identify Myers, American Towman stated in a news release.

“I just did what I did,” he said.

The Towman Medal received by Marker is the industry’s highest honor and was presented at American Towman Magazine’s trade show and convention Nov. 17 in Baltimore, Md., said Neila Smith, the company’s spokeswoman.

“The medal recognizes the risks that all towing professionals face, and honors those who put their lives on the line to save another human being,” Smith stated in a news release.

A ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday in the park-and-ride lot at the Beau Street intersection to dedicate it as the Officer David Dryer Memorial Interchange.

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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