NEWLAND — One person has died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, and an officer was injured by shrapnel from a gunshot during a standoff with multiple law enforcement agencies Thursday, August 3, near Newland according to Avery County Sheriff Mike Henley.
“Our ultimate objective is to get everybody out safely and not worry, but unfortunately, that was not the case,” Henley said on Friday morning following the incident, which is still an ongoing investigation with the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation. “We didn’t have anybody else seriously injured. We had one officer who took a little bit of shrapnel from a shotgun blast, but nothing major. Our people were good. Again, it wasn’t our best-case scenario. I would liked to have been able to take the gentleman into custody, and we exhausted every effort to do that for a long time, and our guys showed a lot of restraint.”
Henley explained that the incident originated as a requested welfare check at the home where the incident occurred.
“Initially, we had two patrol officers who responded there at a request by a veterans organization on Miller’s Gap that called wanting us to do a welfare check on the gentleman who had been in contact with the V.A. earlier in the day that we weren’t aware of,” Henley said. “So we went down there to do a welfare check, two uniformed deputies did, and when they encountered him, he was aggressive. They attempted to de-escalate it, and he went into the residence, from my understanding, and he retrieved a firearm, and they were able to get back out of the situation in an effort to de-escalate it, (and) then it became a tactical situation.”
According to emergency officials and Sheriff Henley, Hickory Nut Gap Road was blocked off for several hours Thursday evening.
The WATAUGA DEMOCRAT Newspaper contributed to this story