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Two Deputies Dead in Salvage Yard Shooting Rampage

Two Deputies Dead in Salvage Yard Shooting Rampage

A gunman opened fire on sheriff's deputies responding to a robbery call at a rural salvage yard on Sunday, killing two and injuring two others before being killed in a shootout, Virginia State Police said. [AP]

Associated Press

March 14, 2011

VANSANT, Va. — A small southwestern Virginia community is again dealing with a deadly shooting rampage that this time killed two deputies and wounded two more before the suspect who may have been trying to rob a salvage yard was fatally shot by police.

Buchanan County deputies investigating at Roger’s Service Center in Vansant on Sunday afternoon were met by gunfire from long range, Virginia State Police said. Two were hit and died at the scene. Two others who arrived also were shot, said State Police Sgt. Steve Lowe.

One deputy has life-threatening injuries and the other was in serious condition, state police said. No names were released late Sunday.

Christina Stiltner lives across the street from the salvage yard in the southwestern Virginia area and had just walked into her home with her 10-year-old son when she heard “pow, pow, pow.”

She opened her front door and saw one deputy run into a neighbor’s yard. She heard another “pow” and the deputy went down. He was one of the injured, she said.

“It scares you so much,” she said. “I sat there thinking ’what’s the number to 911’? It shocked me so badly, I didn’t know the number to 911.”

Residents said such violence is rare in the rural area of about 1,000 people, though in January 2002, a student opened fire on the Appalachian School of Law campus in Grundy just down the road from Vansant after learning he had flunked out of school.

The school’s dean, a professor and a student were killed in the attack. Three other students were wounded. The shooter, Peter Odighizuwa, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison.

“This is a laid-back community. Everybody knows everybody,” said Tivis O’Quinn, 68, who has lived in Vansant for 40 years and operates a business less than a mile from the salvage yard. “Nothing like this ever takes place, except for the law school shooting.”

Police did not release what sort of weapon was used, but Lowe said the suspect shot from long range. The owner of the salvage yard told police his business was being robbed and he had blocked the suspect’s vehicle with his own.

After the shooting, the search was on for the suspect. State police and other officers found him about two hours later and after “some sort of engagement” they shot and killed him, Lowe said.

“I’m not sure what the confrontation was when they encountered him,” Lowe said. “Apparently he was identified as the right person.”

Lowe said he didn’t know if the man fired on police, or if he was armed at the time.

Stiltner said she knew all the deputies involved in the attack because they would often stop by the gas station and restaurant where she works.

Stiltner said she wasn’t allowed to return to her home seven hours after the shootings ended. Several other residents were out of their homes late Sunday.

Vansant is a former coal mining town in the mountainous region of southwestern Virginia. O’Quinn said the community experiences “little petty thefts now and then,” but nothing like what occurred Sunday.

On display in O’Quinn’s office was a 2011 calendar of the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Department. The photo features the department’s 47 members, including Foster and 24 uniformed deputies.

Buchanan County Sheriff Ray Foster called the shooting “one of a kind” for his department but declined to say anymore.

According to the website The Officer Down Memorial Page, the last Buchanan County sheriff to die in the line of duty was in 1975 of a heart attack. The website lists four on-duty deaths for the department since 1905. The last by gunfire was in 1964.

  • Absolutelawenf_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Rest in Peace

  • Deputy-stephanie-simpson_crop380w_max50


    over 3 years ago


    "RIP" Brothers

  • Photo_032210_001_max50


    over 3 years ago


    My parayers are with you and your family and I hope you have a speedy recovery! May GOD bless you! Rest in peace my brothers! Thank you for you loyal service We are are a rare breed and very special one!

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    Rest in peace, officers. My thoughts and prayers are with your loved ones.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    My prayers are with these officers and their families. I wouldn't rule out a preplanned ambush on this one.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    rest in peace

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    R.I.P. my Virginia brothers !
    As you look over Heaven's rails
    down upon your fellow Leo's,
    you see that we are ALL crying sorrowfully
    over your deaths.
    We beg, pray and plead
    that you and your fellow angels
    continue to watch over us.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    RIP prayers for your family and friends

  • N4139562294_683_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Rest in peace my va brothers you did your job well now you are coming home. You are the angels now to keep us safe when the rest of us are on watch

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    May God give comfort to these officers family and friends.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    May you rest in peace, my brothers. May God comfort and bless your families and friends.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    Rest in Peace Deputy Stiltner and Deputy Justus

  • 179509_413913675314782_526027874_n_max50


    over 3 years ago


    This so horrible to scares me to death that even in peaceful towns like Vansant that officers are being gunned down while doing their job! My heart goes out to these officers, their families, co-workers, and the town. I pray for the families of the fallen and may god watch over them and help then heal from this tragedy. May these officer R.I.P. for they are with the lord's police force now. May the two officers who have been wounded in this tragedy recover quickly so they can continue to do what they have been doing all of these years, protecting and serving the public. God Bless all 4 of these officers and their families and co-workers in their time of grief.

  • Ralphie_max50


    over 3 years ago


    RIP my brothers and a speedy recovery to my other two LEO BROTHERS.......

  • Plmb2s3sk_max600_max50


    over 3 years ago


    RIP Deputies.

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