A 13-hour standoff in Watauga County came to an end late Wednesday night.
Morganton Department of Public Safety Maj. Ryan Lander told The News Herald in Morganton just before 11 p.m. that the suspect appeared to have killed himself.
The Watauga County Sheriff's Office said Thursday morning that two Watauga deputies died after being shot and that two other people were found dead inside the home.
Watauga County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Chris Ward died after being airlifted to Johnson City Medical Center in Tennessee. A second deputy, identified as Logan Fox, was also killed.
Both were hit by gunfire. Other officers were able to pull out Ward. Fox died at the scene.
The standoff started after the two deputies responded to a welfare check at the home. The homeowner and his family had not shown up for work.
When deputies arrived, they saw the family’s cars all parked outside and entered the home. When they entered, an unknown person started to shoot at them, the sheriff’s office said.
Ward was able to make it out of the home.
Fox remained on the scene until the standoff ended, although it is not clear whether he was inside or outside.
The names and conditions the other people involved also are unknown at this point.
The standoff drew law enforcement support from all around western North Carolina.
Lander told The News Herald that he was working incident command in Boone Wednesday evening.
The SBI took over the scene Wednesday night, he said.
“It’s just a law enforcement agency coming to help another law enforcement agency is all we’re doing,” Lander sad. “Just trying to fit in the best we can to help out and it’s just a really unfortunate situation all the way around. It’s a horrible situation.”
WCSO said responding agencies include Appalachian State University’s police, the Avery County Sheriff’s Office, Beech Mountain Police, Blowing Rock Police, Boone Police, Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office, Henderson County Sheriff’s Office, Hickory Police, MDPS, N.C. Alcohol Law Enforcement, N.C. State Bureau of Investigation, N.C. State Highway Patrol, Transylvania County Sheriff’s Office, West Jefferson Police and the Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office.
“This is an incredibly tragic situation and our thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved as well as their families and our community,” said Watauga County Sheriff Len Hagaman. “I greatly appreciate the tremendous support we are receiving from law enforcement agencies across the region and the state.”
The shooter periodically fired a gun in the direction of officers throughout the day Wednesday, the Watuga sheriff’s office said.
Clarence Wilson, 78, was on the porch of his home in Boone when sheriff's deputies pulled up in front of the house across the street. Gunfire erupted after the deputies arrived, Wilson said.
"Then they told me to get back in the house and stay," he said.
Wilson said he saw deputies pull a man from the house.
"I don't know if it was a deputy or who it was," he said. "I was just worried about keeping myself safe.”
Wilson said he heard a second barrage of gunfire around noon.
Wilson said it's a "real quiet neighborhood" with many retirees like himself.
"We ain't used to all this," he said. “It’s not over yet.”
Per Watauga County Emergency Services:— Boone NC Police Dept (@boonepolice) April 28, 2021
This alert went to a specific geographic area so we apologize this was vague. Please shelter in place in the Hardaman Circle area.
LAW ENFORCEMENT IS ON SCENE IN AREA. ALL RESIDENTS REMAIN IN YOUR HOME WITH DOORS AND WINDOWS CLOSED.