Man arrested in shooting death of Big Stone Gap police officer

Michael Chandler was shot after responding to a residence in Big Stone Gap

Fallen Big Stone Gap officer Michael Chandler (Source: Facebook/The Town of Big Stone Gap) (Copyright 2021 by WSLS 10 - All rights reserved.)

BIG STONE GAP, Va. – Virginia State Police confirmed authorities have arrested a man in connection to the death of a Big Stone Gap officer who was shot while conducting a welfare check Saturday.

The 33-year-old man was arrested without incident shortly after 8 p.m. Saturday at the Travel Inn located in the 800 block of Lynn Garden Drive in Kingsport, Tenn. He is being help on probation violations out of South Carolina and Wise County, Va.

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It took an “extensive” search by local, state and federal law enforcement to apprehend the suspect.

It was around 4 a.m. Saturday that VSP says while on duty, Town of Big Stone Gap Police Officer Michael Chandler had been called to a home in the 2500 block of Orr Street to conduct a welfare check.

After arriving, Chandler came into contact with at least one individual; it was during this time that the officer had been shot, authorities report.

A Wise County Sheriff’s Office Deputy arrived at the scene to find Officer Chandler lying unconscious in a ditch along the driveway of the home, State Police says. Authorities were able to locate his patrol car and another vehicle at the scene; however, they did not locate a suspect.

The officer was taken to Norton Community Hospital for treatment but later died around 7 p.m., according to the Big Stone Gap Police Chief.

In a statement Chief Stephen Hamm said:

It is with a heavy heart that I must inform our community of the line of duty death of Officer Michael D. Chandler. His battle to survive today was truly miraculous. But, he succumbed to his injuries around 7:00 p.m. this evening at the hospital with his family at his side. Mike’s loss will be felt by our town and across all of Wise County. Not only did he serve as an officer with the Town of Big Stone Gap Police Department, but also as a volunteer with the Big Stone Gap Fire Department. 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.”

This morning at about 6 a.m., the Town of Big Stone Gap Park & Recreation expressed its condolences in a Facebook post:

Big Stone Gap Police Officer Michael Chandler was seriously injured in the line of duty this morning. Our love, thoughts, and prayers go out to him and his family.

Posted by Town of Big Stone Gap Parks & Recreation on Saturday, November 13, 2021

On Sunday morning, Governor Ralph Northam released a statement on the death of Chandler and ordered flags to be lowered:

The investigation is ongoing at this time. Big Stone Gap Police Department, Wise County Sheriff’s Office, and Wise County Commonwealth’s Attorney Chuck Slemp are assisting in the investigation.

Charges related to the shooting of the officer are pending at this time.

Anyone with information about the shooting should call the Virginia State Police at 276-228-3131 or by email at questions@vsp.virginia.gov. The United States Marshals Service is offering a $10,000 reward for information that leads to the location and apprehension of the person who shot Officer Chandler.


About the Authors:

You can watch Lindsey during Virginia Today every weekend or as a reporter during the week!

McKinley Strother joined the WSLS 10 News team in June 2020. He anchors 10 News at 6 and 11 on Saturdays and Sundays and you'll also catch him reporting during the week.