BIG STONE GAP, Va. (WJHL) — As Big Stone Gap and communities across Southwest Virginia mourn the loss of a Big Stone Gap Police Department officer, prosecutors and investigators are working to charge his killer.
Officer Michael Chandler was shot in the early morning last Saturday while performing a welfare check at an abandoned house. He eventually died from his wounds later that day.
On Saturday, the Virginia State Police announced the arrest of an individual on parole violations in Kingsport, but have not yet pressed charges related to the shooting or released that individual’s name.
Anxious community members want justice for the fallen officer. Rachel Davidson was one of the hospital workers that attempted to save Chandler’s life. News Channel 11 spoke with Davidson as she gathered with others at Monday’s procession for Chandler.
“Somebody that tries to take care of somebody should not be left for dead,” Davidson said. “Somebody like that should not get away with what they’ve done.”
Chuck Slemp is the Commonwealth’s Attorney of Wise County and the City of Norton. Slemp said his office and investigators across multiple agencies are building their case.
“This is an active murder investigation,” Slemp said. “We have some hardworking officers working hard to make sure they get it right — to know exactly what happened, who did it and then bring that person to justice.”
Slemp said investigators have not yet released the name of the individual arrested in Kingsport to protect the integrity of the investigation.
“We are ensuring we have all the evidence that we need for a successful prosecution,” Slemp said. “At this stage, it’s premature to name any names or list anyone in connection with this incident.”
Slemp said charges could be pressed in the “next few days or weeks.”
He said this is the third time an officer has been attacked in Wise County in the last six months. Norton Police Chief James Lane was shot in the line of duty in May. Wise County Deputy Robert Robinson was attacked with a knife in July. Both survived.
“This is not a trend that we want to see continue,” Slemp said. “It’s something that I think is just an outlier, but we’ll work diligently to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
As community members demand answers, Slemp said they will come soon.
“The officers are pursuing leads and making a case, and you’ll see that in due time,” Slemp said.