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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.

  • Thin_blue_line_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Rip Brothers, Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    May you rest in peace officers. Your work on earth is done.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    Dear God this has got to end soon. May you rest in peace.

  • Dscn0533_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Dedicated to Deputy Sheriff William Ezra Stiltner and Deputy Sheriff Cameron Justus:

    My condolences to the families, friends and the Brothers and Sisters of the Buchanan County Sheriff's Office (VA).for the loss of two of two brave men attempting to keep Buchanan County safe.. May God comfort all of those affected by this terrible event. Knowing that two of Virginia's Finest met the Lord together may offer some measure of consolation.

    The irony of a man (or men) valuing stolen salvage materials (to be blunt, "trash") over the lives of two of our Nation's Heroes is simply too unsavory for most to ever comprehend.

  • Win_20140410_232326_max50


    over 3 years ago



  • Fallenherobadge-3-1_max160_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Rest In Peace.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    Rest In Peace Brothers, and a speedy recovery to the wounded.

  • Ford_interceptor_8_max50


    over 3 years ago



  • Alex_453_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Rest in Peace my Brothers. Prayers for our wounded, families, friends and coworkers. God Bless the family and friends of all of these Officers.

  • Policememorial---a_max50


    over 3 years ago


    Rest in peace brothers. May God welcome you home with open arms, May He comfort the loved ones you leave behind and may He give your wounded comrades a swift and full recovery. Lord be with all of us as we do our duty and bring us home safely when we are done.

    I am just so heartsick at the moment. It seems like every day we lose another brother or sister, and it is really starting to get me down. We are first and foremost keepers of the peace and the guardians of our communities. When did we suddenly become the enemy? Respect for law enforcement is in the gutter, badges now become bullseyes, and the bad guys don't think twice about pulling a trigger now when we show up. Enough is enough! This is the USA people, not some third world country and it is time to put a stop to the cold blooded murder of our LEOs. Get tactical, stay aware, back each other up, wear your vests and made damn sure the only ones who die on those streets are any bad guys foolish enough to take you on. Plan, train, fight and survive!

  • C1__67__max50


    over 3 years ago


    May these Deputies R.I.P, God Bless them and their families.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago


    The war zone has increased in redness. Too bad someone could not have took out this piece of crap before he shot the officers. We all search for answers, and I don't have one, I just know in my belief that if someone kills any member of law enforcement they should automatically get the death sentence, if they did they would not do it more than once. Prayers for the families of the officers.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 3 years ago

    And yet another tragic time for our heros.May God bless the ones they left behind and comfort them.Thanks to these leos for their faithful and devoted service.

  • Police_link_badge_max50


    over 3 years ago



  • Reserve_max50


    over 3 years ago


    what a crappy two days for LEO's RIP all

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