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Virginia police officer killed on his birthday; suspect arrested at Tennessee motel

Police chief: 'This should have been a day to celebrate his 29th birthday - not a day to mourn his passing'
OfficerMichaelChandler.jpg
Posted at 1:19 PM, Nov 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-14 23:41:09-05

BIG STONE GAP, Va. — Virginia State Police say a 33-year-old man is in custody after a police officer from Big Stone Gap was fatally shot during a welfare check Saturday.

State police said Officer Michael Chandler, 29, died Saturday evening of injuries he received during the shooting. Police said a man from Big Stone Gap was apprehended at a Tennessee motel by the Kingsport, Tennessee Police Department's SWAT team, patrol division and criminal investigations division after an extensive search by local, state and federal law enforcement.

Police did not immediately identify the suspect. He is being held on probation violations out of South Carolina and Wise County, Virginia. State police said charges related to the officer's shooting are pending.

OfficerMichaelChandler.jpg
Officer Michael D. Chandler

Police said in a news release that Chandler was on duty at about 4 a.m. Saturday when he stopped to speak to a person who asked him to check on someone at a vacant home. When Chandler arrived at the residence, he encountered at least one person and was shot, police said.

A Wise County Sheriff’s Office deputy was the first to arrive on the scene and found Chandler lying unconscious in a ditch along the driveway. No one else was there, police said.

Chandler was initially taken to Norton Community Hospital and then flown to Johnson City Medical Center.

“His battle to survive today was truly miraculous," Big Stone Gap Police Chief Stephen Hamm said in a statement late Saturday. "But, he succumbed to his injuries around 7:00 p.m. this evening at the hospital with his family at his side... 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.”

The Bristol Herald Courier reports that Chandler also served as a volunteer with the Big Stone Gap Fire Department.

“Everyone remember Michael’s family in your prayers!” the Big Stone Gap Fire Department said in a statement. “We have lost our brother tonight! Heaven gained another Guardian Angel to help fight the evil of this old world!”

Big Stone Gap is located near Virginia’s western border with Tennessee and Kentucky.

Gov. Ralph Northam offered his condolences to Chandler's family and fellow officers.

“Mike was a dedicated public servant, a devoted husband and father, and a trusted member of the Big Stone Gap community. Like law enforcement officers across the Commonwealth, he put his life on the line everyday in service to his fellow Virginians. And at only 29 years old, he made the ultimate sacrifice,” Northam said in a statement.
urn his passing."

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email newstips@wtvr.com to send a tip.