Two deputies were killed and three other people, including a suspected gunman, were found dead after the lengthy standoff in North Carolina (Picture: WSOCTV /AP)
A gunman killed two police officers, his mother and his step-father before shooting himself dead after a police welfare check on the suspect ended in tragedy.
Alton Barnes, 32, brutally murdered his two relatives and then two cops in Watauga County, North Carolina, on Wednesday, according to police, who admit they were told three days prior that the suspect ‘might be a problem’.
Watauga County sheriff, Len Hagaman, has said that the sheriff’s office was altered by ‘concerned folks’ who were fearful of Barnes on Sunday, but police were unable to track him down over the weekend, Hagaman added.
Then, on Wednesday, officers went to perform a welfare check on Barnes at his home in Boone, after his employer told police that Barnes did not show up for work and was not answering his phone, according to a police statement.
When inside the home the officers were ambushed and fatally shot while heading down to the basement, where Barnes was hiding out, Hagaman added.
The officers who tragically lost their lives were K-9 deputy, Logan Fox, who died a the scene and sergeant Chris Ward, who died after being flown to a local hospital.
Barnes also fatally shot his mother, Michelle Annette Ligon and his step-father, during the stand-off with armed police that lasted 13 hours.
Sgt Chris Ward was a father-of-two (Picture: AP)
Logan Fox was tragically killed while performing a welfare check on the suspected shooter, Alton Barnes (Picture: AP)
According to police, local people who knew the suspect had alerted the sheriff’s office but detectives failed to ‘encounter him where we thought he would be’.
Hagaman said police had looked for the suspect over the weekend to try to ‘get him away from someplace so we could have some more control over him’.
The deputies then performed the welfare check on Barnes on Wednesday and did not think the suspect was home, according to the sheriff.
Upon arrival Barnes had barricaded himself in the home and after killing Fox and Ward, occasionally fired in the direction of police who had surrounded the house.
According to the police statement, the stand-off lasted for around 13 hours.
A Boone Police Department officer was also hit by Barnes’ gunfire while attempting to rescue the downed deputies, but his protective helmet prevented injury, police added.
North Carolina Governor, Roy Cooper, paid tribute to Fox and Ward following their death.
In a statement, he said: ‘We grieve for Chris Ward, K-9 deputy Logan Fox and the entire Watauga County law enforcement community today after these tragic deaths in the line of duty.
The deadly standoff lasted 13 hours (Picture: AP)
‘These horrific shootings that claimed lives and loved ones show the ever-present danger law enforcement can encounter in the line of duty.’
Fox was a two-year police veteran and Ward was an eight-year veteran who was married to his high school sweetheart and was a father to two, reports CNN.
Hagaman said: ‘This is an incredibly tragic situation and our thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved as well as their families and our community.’
An investigation into the tragedy is underway and is being led by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.
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