BIG STONE GAP, Va. (WJHL) – When police arrived at Orr Street on Saturday morning, they found Officer Michael Chandler lying in a ditch struggling to survive.
According to police, it was Chandler’s birthday. He’d been called to the residence to perform a welfare check.
Chandler was flown to Johnson City Medical Center and the hunt for the person responsible was on.
“I couldn’t hardly believe it in this area,” Southwest Virginia resident Beth Thacker said. “Especially in Big Stone, because Big Stone’s always been a quiet, peaceful place you don’t think of nothing going on here at Big Stone.”
The US Marshals Service and Ballad Health offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of a suspect.
Unfortunately, Saturday evening Chandler died from his injuries. In the following hour, a suspect was arrested at the Kingsport Travel Inn.
Now, a community mourns the loss of one of its own.
“He was out there doing his job to protect our community and doing a welfare check, which is to help people to help someone who’s in need,” Big Stone Gap resident Stephen Murray said. “I feel a lot of just sadness for him and his family.”
Chris Holcomb and his family live within walking distance of where Chandler was shot.
“My wife came in there and woke me up and told me what was going on,” Holcomb said. “We kind of heard a lot of vehicles and stuff going up and down the road. You see the cops spotlighting in the yards.”
Holcomb said Chandler was no stranger to the neighborhood.
“Michael was down and responding to our house last week,” Holcomb said. “We had a prowler around our house, and he came down there.”
Holcomb said he served in the fire service with Chandler as well.
“Real good guy,” Holcomb said. “He actually seems like he was a little bit too nice to be a police officer, but, yeah he was a good kid.”
An Escort Tribute honoring Chandler will take place on Monday, Nov. 15.
Law enforcement, fire and EMS will escort Chandler’s body from the Medical Examiner’s Office in Roanoke to Big Stone Gap, and the procession is expected to start at noon.