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Virginia Chief Shot Twice While Investigating Shoplifting

Norton, VA – The chief of the Norton Police Department (NPD) remained hospitalized Saturday after being shot while investigating a report of a shoplifting one day earlier.

The attack occurred on May 8 near the Walmart store on Commonwealth Drive after the NPD received a report of a shoplifter, WJHL reported.

“As Norton Police Chief James Lane pulled up to the parking lot, he encountered a male pedestrian,” the Virginia State Police (VSP) said in a press release. “The man began shooting into the chief’s vehicle, striking the chief. The chief returned fire.”

A second NPD officer also returned fire, WJHL reported.

Chief Lane and the suspect, 36-year-old James Dyer Buckland, were both wounded during the shootout, WJHL reported.

“There were several units on the scene very quickly, helping secure the scene, helping provide first aid to both people that were shot, so with the tourniquets and things like that to stop the bleeding [until] rescue got here and they were transported,” Wise County Sheriff Grant Kilgore told the news outlet.

Investigators said they recovered the suspect’s gun at the scene, WJHL reported.

Chief Lane and Buckland were airlifted to Johnson Medical Center.

Alan Levine, CEO of Ballad Health, said Chief Lane had been shot twice.

The City of Norton said in a Facebook post on Saturday that the chief had undergone surgery and was listed in stable condition.

“On behalf of Chief James Lane, his family, police department and our entire community, we want to express our deep appreciation for the outpouring of prayer and support that has been offered from across our region and Commonwealth,” the city’s post read.

Sheriff Kilgore said the attack on Chief Lane exemplified the “violent times” we are living in, WJHL reported.

“Law enforcement takes a beating every day, and we have some of the bravest men and women in the world right here in Wise County and every police department you want to look at who want to do the right thing to keep their communities safe,” the sheriff said.

Norton Mayor Joseph Fawbush said he was stunned by the brazen attack.

“I, like most of the community members, were in shock and disbelief that something like this could happen in our community,” Fawbush told WJHL.

“I’m very proud of our emergency services for their quick and efficient response to this incident,” the mayor continued. “I’m proud of our commonwealth’s attorney’s office as well for stepping in and issuing warrants as speedy as they did so this individual is not out in the public again.”

Buckland has been charged with use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, attempted capital murder, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, WJHL reported.

Details regarding the gunman’s medical condition have not been released.

The VSP is handling the ongoing investigation into the shooting.

Chief Lane and two other NPD officers have been placed on leave while the incident is investigated, as is protocol for all officer-involved shootings, WCYB reported.

NPD Acting Sergeant Justin Qualls said the department was already short-staffed prior to the incident, but that everyone is more than willing to do more than their fair share to help their fellow officers.

“We’re willing and able to step up to the plate because Chief has stepped up to the plate for us. We want to do that for him,” Sgt. Qualls told WCYB. “Everyone has a tremendous amount of respect for him, including myself and everybody at this department.”

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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