Sheriff: Suspect, 2 others in family among dead in standoff

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In this photo provided by WJZY, a tactical van from Caldwell County, North Carolina, sits on stand-by at a staging area in Boone, N.C., on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. Law enforcement agencies responded to a standoff in Boone in which two Watauga County sheriffs deputies were shot and wounded. (Morgan Frances/WJZY via AP)

BOONE, N.C. – A married couple found dead along with a suspected gunman after a 13-hour standoff at a North Carolina home were members of the same family, a sheriff’s office said Thursday. Two deputies also were fatally shot in the home.

The Watauga County Sheriff’s Office said George Wyatt Ligon, 58, and Michelle Annette Ligon, 61, were killed Wednesday inside their home in Boone. A sheriff's statement said the suspect, Isaac Alton Barnes, 32, also was found dead at the home and had a large number of weapons.

Barnes was identified as Michelle Ligon’s son and George Ligon's stepson.

Authorities said Barnes was suspected in the fatal shootings of two deputies who had been dispatched to the home Wednesday. Sgt. Chris Ward died at a hospital in Johnson City, Tennessee, after Wednesday's shooting while K-9 Officer Logan Fox died at the scene, the sheriff’s office said.

Watauga County Sheriff Len Hagaman said family members had expressed concerns about the large number of weapons in Barnes' possession. The sheriff added that he believed Barnes may have been contemplating an attack in public.

“There was familial concern that he might try to do something and he had evidently a fairly large cache of weapons and he was at the house, which we didn’t think he would be,” the sheriff said.

“I’m convinced that the attitude of the suspect was such that he was planning this, not particularly at the officers, but possibly the public in general,” Hagaman said. “The officers, they thought they were going into one situation, and the perpetrator, the suspect was there.”

A Boone Police officer, a Boone firefighter and an Appalachian State University police officer also were shot at during an initial attempt to rescue the deputies, and the Boone police officer was hit, but he escaped injury because of his Kevlar helmet, Hagaman said.