Sheriff: Heavily armed gunman among 5 dead in home standoff

North Carolina news

WATAUGA COUNTY, N.C. — Authorities say a gunman who killed himself, two deputies and his mother and stepfather in a 13-hour home standoff in North Carolina had a large cache of weapons and may have been contemplating an attack in public.

Watauga County Sheriff Len Hagaman confirmed Thursday morning that five people were killed, including two deputies. They have been identified as Sgt. Chris Ward and K-9 Deputy Logan Fox of the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office.

The suspect’s mother and stepfather were also killed in the standoff. The sheriff identified the couple as George Wyatt Ligon and his wife Michelle. The suspect, Michelle’s 32-year-old son, Isaac Alton Barnes, also died, the sheriff said on Thursday.

Watauga County Sgt. Chris Ward was responding to the home off Hardaman Circle for a welfare check along with Deputy Logan Fox. They were trying to find someone who didn’t show up for work on Wednesday.

Both were shot when they entered the home.

The sheriff’s office said Fox died at the scene. Ward died after being flown to Johnson City Medical Care for treatment.

“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 in a statement on April 28. “I greatly appreciate the tremendous support we are receiving from law enforcement agencies across the region and the state.”

Hagaman said family members had expressed concerns about the large number of weapons in Barnes’ possession and what he might try to do.

Deputy Logan Fox, 25, was a two-year veteran of the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office, the sheriff’s office said in a press release. He was a K-9 officer who handled Watauga County Sheriff’s Office K-9 “Raven.” Before he worked the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office as a full-time deputy, he served as full-time deputy with the Ashe County Sheriff’s Office. The sheriff’s office said Fox’s true passion was serving as a K-9 Officer.

Sgt. Chris Ward, 36, was an eight-year veteran in the field of law enforcement, the sheriff’s office said. He married his high school sweetheart and is a father of two, ages 19 and 5. He began his career at the Beech Mountain Police Department in 2013, later moving on to the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office where he was promoted to the rank of Sergeant.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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