Two North Carolina deputies shot dead by gunman suspected of killing parents

(Reuters) – Two sheriff’s deputies were shot dead by a gunman suspected of killing his parents at their home in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, authorities said on Thursday.

The 32-year-old suspect, Isaac Alton Barnes, later died of a self-inflicted gun wound, local media reported.

During a 13-hour standoff between law enforcement and the suspect on Wednesday at the house in the town of Boone, a third police officer was hit by gunfire but his ballistic helmet protected him and he was uninjured, the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

The deputies were shot after conducting a “welfare check” at the home following a report by the homeowner’s employer that he failed to show up for work, the sheriff said.

“Upon entering the home, two Watauga County Sheriff’s deputies received gunshot wounds from an unknown individual within the residence,” authorities said.

The deputies were identified as K-9 Deputy Logan Fox, 25, who died at the scene, and Sergeant Chris Ward, 36, who died after being flown to Johnson City Medical Center for treatment, the sheriff said. Fox was a two-year veteran of the sheriff’s office and Ward, a father of two, was an eight-year veteran.

Other law enforcement officers who rushed to the scene were able to pull Ward from the home but the wounded Fox remained in the house throughout the ensuing standoff, local media reported.

Barnes is also suspected of killing his mother, Michelle Annette Ligon, 61, and his stepfather, George Wyatt Ligon, 58.

The sheriff’s office said in the statement that Barnes “died at the scene.” The office did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for information about the cause of the gunman’s death.

“This is an incredibly tragic situation and our thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved as well as their families and our community,” Watauga County Sheriff Len Hagaman said.

The shooting is under investigation by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.

(This story corrects name of county in paragraphs 3 and 5)

Reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler and Rosalba O’Brien

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