WATAUGA COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Five people are dead in the wake of a standoff in North Carolina.
The Watauga County Sheriff’s Office 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 was also killed, as were the suspect’s two parents. It is unclear how the suspect or the suspect’s parents died, and their names are not being released at this time.
Investigators are working to piece together what led to the deadly standoff.
Ward and Fox were responding to a home for a welfare check at 9:44 a.m. Wednesday after the homeowner and his family didn’t report to work or answer telephone calls.
Both were shot when they entered the home. A helicopter took Ward to a hospital, but he died from his injuries. Fox died at the scene.
The suspect had reportedly been shooting at law enforcement into the night. The sheriff’s office said officers from approximately 15 law enforcement agencies surrounded the home. Other people living nearby were evacuated or told to shelter in place as the standoff lasted throughout the day and Wednesday night.
On Thursday morning, Ward’s second cousin Donna Ward paid her respects at a growing memorial of candles and flowers. She said they come from a law enforcement family and that this loss is devastating.
“Just heartbreak,” she said. “I pray for them each and every day. I’m on my knees each and every day praying for these people. I pray for everybody, but these officers, they have a tough job. I mean they’re out here to serve and protect and people just don’t get it, they don’t.”
The news of Ward’s death broke Wednesday night, sparking an outpouring of condolences from other local law enforcement agencies.
On Thursday morning, Lexington police tweeted, “Our hearts go out to the Watauga County Sheriffs Department this morning as they deal with the tragic death Sgt. Chris Ward. “Greater love has no one than this that someone lay down their life for their friends.'”
The Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office tweeted, “Our hearts are heavy for the Watauga Sheriff’s Office, Sgt. Ward’s family, and all involved in the deadly standoff in Boone, NC yesterday. Our thoughts and prayer are with you.”
Winston-Salem police joined a law enforcement caravan, bringing Ward’s body to Wake Forest Baptist Health early Thursday morning.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said he spoke with the sheriff to offer support and express his condolences.
“We grieve for Sgt. Chris Ward, K-9 Deputy Logan Fox and the entire Watauga County law enforcement community today,” Cooper tweeted. “These horrific shootings that claimed lives and loved ones show the ever-present danger law enforcement can encounter in the line of duty.”’
The Associated Press contributed to this report.