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Hero Down: Big Stone Gap PD Officer Michael Chandler Murdered By Gunman On 29th Birthday

Johnson City, TN – Big Stone Gap Police Department (BSGPD) Officer Michael “Mike” Chandler was murdered in the line of duty while conducting a welfare check on Saturday.

He died on his 29th birthday, the Virginia State Police (VSP) said in a press release.

Officer Chandler was out on patrol in Big Stone Gap shortly after 4 a.m. on Nov. 13 when he stopped to speak with a citizen.

The person asked Officer Chandler to conduct a welfare check on an individual seen at a vacant residence located in the 2500-block of Orr Street, according to police.

The lone officer responded to the home, where he encountered at least one individual.

“It was during this encounter that Officer Chandler was shot,” the VSP said.

A Wise County sheriff’s deputy arrived at the scene a short while later and found Officer Chandler lying unconscious in a ditch beside the driveway of the home, according to the press release.

The wounded officer’s patrol vehicle and a second vehicle were parked nearby, but the suspect had fled.

Officer Chandler was rushed to Norton Community Hospital before he was flown to Johnson City Medical Center in Tennessee, the VSP said.

Investigators with the Kingsport Police Department’s (KPD), the U.S. Marshals Service, and the Bristol Virginia Police Department (BPD) located the alleged gunman hiding out at a Travel Inn hotel on Lynn Garden Drive in Kingsport shortly after 8 p.m. on Saturday, according to police.

The 33-year-old suspect was arrested without incident on probation violation charges out of both South Carolina and Wise County, Virginia.

Additional charges related to the shooting of Officer Chandler are pending, according to the VSP.

Officer Chandler succumbed to his wounds with his family at his side at approximately 7 p.m., Big Stone Gap Police Chief Stephen Hamm said in the press release.

“It is with a heavy heart that I must inform our community of the line of duty death of Officer Michael D. Chandler,” Chief Hamm wrote. “His battle to survive today was truly miraculous…Mike’s loss will be felt by our town and across all of Wise County.”

In addition to his role as a BSGPD officer, he also served as a Big Stone Gap Fire Department volunteer firefighter.

“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,” Chief Hamm said.

Not only was Officer Chandler a “dedicated public servant,” he was also a “devoted husband and father, and a trusted member of the Big Stone Gap community,” Virginia Governor Ralph Northam said in a press release on Sunday.

“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 wrote. “Please join me in sending prayers to his family, fellow officers, and all who loved him. I’m ordering Virginia flags be lowered on the day of his interment, in honor of Michael Chandler’s memory and sacrifice.”

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Big Stone Gap Police Department Officer Michael “Mike” Chandler, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.

Officer Mike Chandler, your life mattered.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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