GILES CO., Va. -

Virginia State Police are now handling the investigation of an officer-involved shooting in Pearisburg.

Police say an officer with the Pearisburg Police Department shot and killed Thomas Saunders after he allegedly pointed a gun at the officer. The shooting happened Sunday around 3 p.m. during a traffic stop.

Saunders was taken to a nearby hospital, where he later died.

The name of the officer who shot Saunders is not being released. Ultimately, the commonwealth's attorney will decide if this was a justified shooting on the part of that officer.

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A man is dead after an officer-involved shooting during a traffic stop Sunday in Pearisburg.

The driver was shot after pointing a gun at an officer, according to Virginia State Police. Police identified the driver as Thomas N. Saunders, 47, of Ripplemead, Va.

The incident happened around 3 p.m. Sunday on Neal Street, near Ingram Village United Methodist Church.

Rescue was immediately called to the scene and Saunders was transported to a nearby hospital, where he died a short time later.

A medical examiner plans an autopsy. The incident remains under investigation at this time.

Here is the news release from Virginia State Police:

At approximately 3 p.m. Sunday (May 18), a Pearisburg Police official initiated a traffic stop on a vehicle in the Town of Pearisburg. During the course of the traffic stop, the suspect driver exited his vehicle and pointed a firearm at the officer. The driver, Thomas N. Saunders, 47, of Ripplemead, Va., was subsequently shot.

Rescue was immediately called to the scene and Saunders was transported to a nearby hospital, where he died a short time later. Saunders’ remains were transported to the Office of the Medical Examiner in Roanoke, Va., for examination and autopsy.

At the request of the Pearisburg Police Chief, the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Police Shooting Investigative Team out of the Wytheville Field Office responded to the scene to investigate the incident.

The incident remains under investigation at this time.

Once the state police has completed its investigation, a report will be turned over to the Commonwealth’s Attorney for review and final adjudication.


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We are waiting to get more details about an officer-involved shooting that happened today in Giles County.

WDBJ7 has put in calls to the sheriff for additional details.

Check back for updates, and tune in to WDBJ7 at Six and Eleven for the latest.