Published November 17, 2014
VANSANT, Virginia -- A gunman opened fire on sheriff's deputies investigating a possible robbery at a rural salvage yard on Sunday, killing two and injuring two others before being killed in a shootout, Virginia State Police said.
One of the Buchanan County sheriff's deputies had life-threatening injuries and the other was in serious condition, state police said.
Buchanan County Sheriff Ray Foster called the shooting "one of a kind" for his department but declined to say anymore.
The owner of Roger's Service Center in the southwestern Virginia community of Vansant told police that his business was being robbed and he had blocked the suspect's vehicle with his own.
State Police Sgt. Steve Lowe said when deputies and state police arrived at about 2 p.m. local time, someone started shooting at them. Two deputies were hit and died at the scene. Police did not release what sort of weapon was used, but Lowe said the suspect shot from long range.
The other two deputies were shot when they arrived at the salvage yard.
State police and other officers found the suspect about two hours later and after "some sort of engagement" they shot and killed him, Lowe said.
Lowe said he didn't know if the man fired on police, or if he was armed at the time.
Christina Stiltner lives across the street from the salvage yard 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.
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 of 1,000 in the mountainous region of southwestern Virginia. O'Quinn said the community experiences "little petty thefts now and then," but nothing like what occurred on Sunday.