This article was updated at 13:10 on May 1, 2021
A 13-hour standoff in Watauga County, North Carolina, ended with “two deputies were killed and three other people, including the gunman,” reports WSOC-TV. According to the report, the Watauga County Sheriff said that “the two deputies died in the shooting that prompted a daylong standoff Wednesday that dragged into the night with law enforcement officers surrounding a home.”
WSOC identified Isaac Alton Barnes as the suspect in the murder of his mother, Michelle Ligon, and his stepfather, George Ligon, as well as the two deputies. Watauga County Sheriff Len Hagaman told the press that police were “dispatched to a home on Hardaman Circle at 9:44 a.m. Wednesday after, the homeowner and his family didn’t report to work or answer telephone calls.
Sheriff Hagaman said that Sgt. Chris Ward and K-9 Deputy Logan Fox were the two deputies that “were hit by gunfire.” The sheriff told WSOC that there was “No doubt. No doubt at all.” that it was an ambush. He said, “You know, he was waiting for the officers. We had an issue with him over the weekend.”
The sheriff said, “There was familial concern that he might try to do something, and he had evidently a fairly large cache of weapons, and he was at the house, which we didn’t think he would be.” He indicated that the ambush happened inside the stairwell in the home.”
Hagman goes on to say that the officers’ well-check visit turned murderous standoff, saved public lives. Officers found literature in the home that showed Isaac Barnes planned on “taking people out.” The sheriff said, “It was not a manifesto, but it was, like, ‘I need to do this.’ “
Hagaman elaborated, saying, “I’m convinced that the attitude of the suspect was such that he was planning this, not particularly at the officers, but possibly the public in general. The officers, they thought they were going into one situation, and the perpetrator, the suspect, was there. The deputies took the brunt for the public.”
The report states that Ward died at the hospital after officers could pull him out of the home. Deputy Fox died in the home. Sheriff Hagaman stated that a Boone police officer was hit in his Kevlar helmet by gunfire. He along with two others attempted to pull the wounded officers out of the home.
Sheriff Hagaman spoke to WSOC, saying that he and his deputies “shouldn’t have to go through this.” Hagaman continued, “Once was devastating, but this is just unreal. It’s just — I can’t put it into words. The saving grace, though, is the community has come together in support, both mentally, physically, spiritually.”
The sheriff said that “we certainly want to let the community know that we know they love us.” Hagaman states that the officers “had the compassion for the community and doing the right thing, and they did that.” He said that “They didn’t expect this, but they were doing the right thing.”
The report states the flags outside the sheriff’s office were lowered to half-staff Thursday morning in honor of the fallen officers. Hagaman said, “This is an incredibly tragic situation, and our thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved as well as their families and our community. I greatly appreciate the tremendous support we are receiving from law enforcement agencies across the region and the state.”