Just days before a man in North Carolina died of apparent suicide after shooting four people on Wednesday, family members warned authorities that he “might try to do something,” the official said. Watauga County Sheriff.
Sgt. Chris Ward and K-9 deputy Logan Fox responded to a welfare check on a person at a house in Boone, about 102 miles northwest of Charlotte, on Wednesday after the owner walked away. not shown for work, according to the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office. After identifying all vehicles on the property on the 500 block of Hardaman Circle, MPs entered the house.
It was then that authorities said someone inside opened fire, hitting the two MPs and triggering a 13-hour standoff.
Ward, 36, died after being taken to Johnson City Medical Center in Tennessee, the agency said. Fox, 25, died at the scene.
The suspect has been identified as Isaac Alton Barnes, 32, who authorities say died by apparent suicide after fatally shooting the residents of the house, Michelle Annette Ligon, 61, and George Wyatt Ligon, 58. Barnes was the son of one of the victims and the stepson of the other.
Watauga County Sheriff Len Hagaman told reporters Thursday his office received calls from members of Barnes’s family on Sunday, who had warned authorities that he “might try to do something.”
Hagaman said the suspected shooter had a “large cache of weapons”, and MPs were warned “to be on the lookout”.
“I am convinced that the attitude of the suspect was such that he expected this – not particularly on the side of the officers, but possible of the general public,” Hagaman said.
In the first attempt to rescue the MPs, a police officer in Boone was shot but was not injured because he was wearing protective gear, the sheriff’s office said.
Authorities said the suspected gunman “periodically” opened fire on officers who surrounded the house until the standoff ended around midnight.
“This is an incredibly tragic situation and our hearts and prayers are with everyone involved and their families and our community,” Hagaman said in a statement Thursday. “I greatly appreciate the tremendous support we are receiving from regional and state law enforcement.”
During the stalemate, the security forces surrounded the house and residents of the surrounding area were evacuated.
Ward was an eight-year veteran of the force, while Fox had been with the sheriff’s office for two years. Flowers and candles were laid for the officers killed on a memorial statue outside the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday, NBC affiliate WCNC reported.
The incident was the last fatal shooting in the United States this year.
While there is no federal definition for mass shootings, the Gun Violence Archive, a non-partisan research group based in Washington, DC, defines it as a shooting incident in which four or more people are injured or killed, excluding the shooter.
Data from the gun violence archives showed that the number of multi-victim shootings first rose in April 2020 and has remained high since.
From January 1 to April 26, there were 160 shootings in which four or more people were injured or killed – up from just over 90 during the same period in 2020.
This year’s total is almost double the average for the same period every year since 2014.
If you or someone you know is at risk for suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, send TALK to 741741, or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.