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Hero Down: Wintergreen Police Officer Mark Christopher ‘Chris’ Wagner Murdered By Gunman

Wintergreen, VA – Wintergreen Police Department (WPD) Officer Mark Christopher “Chris” Wagner was murdered in the line of duty while fighting with a violent suspect on Friday night.

The incident began at a residence on Arrowood Lane at approximately 10 p.m. on June 16, WTVR reported.

According to the Virginia State Police (VSP), Wintergreen police responded to the residence after receiving an emergency call about a man who allegedly assaulted two other men whom he lived with at the home.

“After calling police, the two injured males fled the residence on foot,” the VSP said.

Officer Wagner was the first one to arrive at the house, WVIR reported.

The 31-year-old officer ultimately located the suspect, 23-year-old Daniel Barmak, in a wooded area near the residence, according to WTVR.

The VSP said Officer Wagner got into a physical altercation with Barmak and that a struggle for Officer Wagner’s gun ensued.

Investigators said Officer Wagner was shot with his own weapon by the suspect during the brawl, WTVR reported.

“During the course of the struggle over Wagner’s department-issued handgun, Barmak shot and killed the officer,” the VSP said. “Barmak was also shot during the encounter.”

Officer Wagner succumbed to his wounds at the scene.

Barmak was taken into custody by Nelson County deputies and WPD officers “without further incident,” officials told WTVR.

The suspect was transported to UVA Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries, as were the two 23-year-old males he allegedly assaulted.

Investigators said they located “illegal narcotics” inside the home, WTVR reported.

Officer Wagner’s duty weapon was recovered in the woods at the scene of the fatal shooting, according to the VSP.

Barmak was booked into the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail on charges of capital murder, two counts of malicious wounding, and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, WTVR reported.

WPD Chief Denniss Russell requested the VSP’s Criminal Investigations Appomattox Field Office handle the investigation into the incident.

He confirmed the young officer’s murder in a press release on Saturday morning.

“Mark Christopher Wagner II ‘Chris,’ was a dedicated Officer who served the Wintergreen community with honor,” Chief Russell wrote. “On June 16th, 2023 Chris answered his final call before taking his place with other heroes who have gone before him by laying down his life for the people he swore to protect and serve.”

Officer Wagner worked for the Massanutten Police Department (MPD) as a gate attendant prior to graduating from the Central Shenandoah Criminal Justice Academy in May of 2019.

He then began serving as an MPD officer.

Officer Wagner spent a total of seven years working for the MPD prior to joining the WPD in August of 2020.

Chief Russell said the young officer “asked for and worked the midnight shift” during his time at the WPD.

He was also the department’s BolaWrap and Taser instructor.

“Chris was dedicated to his job and whenever called for extra duty he was ready, willing and able. His love for the badge was evident and his commitment to the community was undeniable,” the chief wrote. “Chris is remembered for always going out of his way to cheer others up and his infectious laugh was loud and echoed throughout the office.”

A fundraiser established to help Officer Wagner’s family in the wake of their loss has raised almost $60,000 so far.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Wintergreen Police Department Officer Mark Christopher “Chris” Wagner, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.

Officer Mark Christopher “Chris” Wagner, 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.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin


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