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VA cop shot to death on his 29th birthday while conducting welfare check

Police car lights. (Alexandru Cuznetov/Dreamstime/TNS)
November 15, 2021

A police officer in Virginia was fatally shot while performing an early-morning welfare check on Saturday. The officer died of his injuries later on Saturday, which was also his 29th birthday.

In a Saturday tweet, the Virginia State Police identified the fatally wounded officer as Big Stone Gap Police Officer Michael Chandler. The Virginia State Police initially said Chandler was shot during the encounter at a residence in the 2500 block of Orr Street, shortly after 4 a.m. on Saturday morning. Following the shooting, the Virginia State Police announced Chandler was taken to Johnson City Medical Center where he was being treated for life-threatening injuries.

On Monday, following Chandler’s death, the town of Big Stone Gap tweeted, confirming the officer’s death and providing a point of contact to provide donations on his family’s behalf.

In a Sunday press statement, Big Stone Gap Police Chief Stephen Hamm confirmed Chandler’s death.

“It is with a heavy heart that I must inform our community of the line of duty death of Officer Michael D. Chandler. His battle to survive today was truly miraculous,” Hamm said. “His battle to survive today was truly miraculous. But, he succumbed to his injuries around 7:00 p.m. this evening at the hospital with his family at his side.”

“Mike’s loss will be felt by our town and across all of Wise County. Not only did he serve as an officer with the Town of Big Stone Gap Police Department, but also as a volunteer with the Big Stone Gap Fire Department,” Hamm added. “Please keep his family in your prayers tonight, as this should have been a day to celebrate his 29th birthday – not a day to mourn his passing.”

On Sunday, the town of Big Stone Gap announced that a Big Stone Gap man had been taken into police custody in nearby Kingsport, Tennessee on Saturday night. The suspect was apprehended by responding members of the Kingsport Police Department’s Patrol Division, Criminal Investigations Division and SWAT Team. The U.S. Marshals Service, FBI, Wise County Sheriff’s Office and the Bristol, Tenn. Police Department assisted with the arrest in Kingsport.

The suspect, an unidentified 33-year-old man, is being held for probation violations in South Carolina and Wise County, Virginia. Charges related to the shooting of officer Chandler are still pending.

WTVR reported the shooting is still being investigated, with coordination from the Big Stone Gap Police, the Wise County Sheriff’s Office and Wise County Commonwealth’s Attorney Chuck Slemp.