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Wythe County community leaders react to overnight shooting

Published: Jul. 8, 2020 at 10:44 PM EDT
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WYTHE COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - Two deputies in Wythe County are out of the hospital and recovering after a late night shooting during a domestic call Tuesday night.

Sgt. Chris Coleman and Deputy Charles Foster were hit by gunfire as crews closed in on a house along Whippoorwill Road. One bullet missed Coleman’s spine by just inches, and Foster was grazed by another.

The suspect, Ricky Delk, is facing more than a dozen felony charges, and is in a hospital with serious injuries.

Wythe County Sheriff's Sgt. Chris Coleman Recovering in Hospital After Shooting
Wythe County Sheriff's Sgt. Chris Coleman Recovering in Hospital After Shooting(Jessica Milby)

This is a story that has touched the entire New River Valley and far beyond. While it is a scary situation, folks we spoke with say they are grateful for police departments working hard to defend them 24-7.

While the community remains on edge, they are starting to take steps to get things back to normal in the county.

“Those fellow officers, they’re my family,” said Brian Vaught.

Vaught is a hostage negotiator for the sheriff’s office and board of supervisors chairman. He said it’s a call he never wants to get.

“We’re here to do our best for the citizens of the county and it makes it a little tougher when it’s your coworkers,” Vaught said.

But the toughest part for him is knowing his family in blue was going to help someone who called asking for it.

“That was their sole goal and they were basically ambushed,” he said.

It was an ambush that left Sgt. Chris Coleman and Chief Deputy Charles Foster injured. Foster is more commonly known as Big Bird.

“He has had that nickname since high school,” Vaught laughed. “If you spend enough time in Wythe County you’ll find enough people call me Cheese, my nickname’s been Cheeseburger since high school.”

They’re basically extended family in the county.

“Law enforcement, for the most part, you’re either called by your last name or a nickname. Nobody knows your first names,” Vaught said.

Other community leaders say they’re proud to know law enforcement’s got their backs.

“For us I think there’s a human element to it in a small town like this,” Restoration Church Pastor and the county’s public information officer, Jeremy Farley said. “It opens our eyes on the public side of things of how blessed we are for the men and women that suit up each night and go out and keep us safe.”

“What happened last night is not Wythe County,” Vaught said. “The good days will always outweigh the bad days and those are the ones you want to go home and tell your family about, not ones like these.”

Vaught said this shooting does not represent the majority of county residents who he said have been showering the department with support all day.

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