Two sheriff’s deputies were among four people who were killed in a 1 p.m. standoff in Boone, North Carolina, which authorities said began Wednesday morning when they were called to the home of a man who did not s was not showing up for work.
MPs from the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office arrived at a home at 9.44am Wednesday after the owner’s employer called to report the person had not come to work or answered no phone calls, said the sheriff’s office.
When the deputies entered inside, two of them were gunned down as they walked down the basement steps, Sheriff Len Hagaman said.
Sheriff Hagaman told reporters it was fair to say his deputies were ambushed by the 32-year-old gunman, who also killed his mother and stepfather. The person who called the sheriff’s office for a welfare check was the father-in-law’s employer, Sheriff Hagaman said.
The sheriff said the shooter may have intended to target members of the public and his office had been warned he had “a lot of guns.”
The sheriff’s office said the standoff ended around 11 p.m. Wednesday. The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation confirmed Thursday that the shooter was dead, but did not release his name or say how he died.
Sheriff Hagaman said the shooter appeared to have a plan to “get people out”. He did not describe other details of this plan.
In recent days, authorities have received calls from people concerned the shooter may be dangerous, Sheriff Hagaman said.
“They just gave us a warning, ‘That’s what he thinks he’s doing,'” he said. Authorities did not know he was in the house when they arrived, Sheriff Hagaman said.
One of the deputies, Sgt. Chris Ward, died after being airlifted to Johnson City Medical Center. The other, Logan Fox, a K-9 deputy, died at the scene, the sheriff said. The identities of the shooter’s mother and stepfather were not immediately revealed.
An officer from the Boone Police Department was also shot dead, authorities said, but was not injured as he was wearing protective gear.
“This is an incredibly tragic situation and our hearts and prayers are with everyone involved and their families and our community,” Sheriff Hagaman said in a statement. “I greatly appreciate the tremendous support we are receiving from regional and state law enforcement.”
The standoff drew a broad response from law enforcement from more than a dozen organizations, including other sheriff’s offices, police departments and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.
During the confrontation, the gunman barricaded himself inside the house and periodically shot at the police, authorities said. The security forces told residents of the surrounding area to leave their homes for their safety.
Donna Ward, a cousin of Sgt. Ward told reporters she was heartbroken.
“I pray for everyone, but these officers have a tough job,” she said. “I mean they’re here to serve and protect and people just don’t get it. They don’t.