Officer dies after being shot while performing welfare check near Big Stone Gap, man in custody

Officer Michael Chandler
Officer Michael Chandler(Town of Big Stone Gap)
Published: Nov. 13, 2021 at 8:55 AM EST
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WISE COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - UPDATE: Big Stone Gap Police Officer Michael Chandler died Saturday night on his 29th birthday from injuries sustained in the shooting.

A man is in custody with pending charges connected to the shooting.

The 33-year-old from Big Stone Gap was arrested without issue by the Kingsport, Tennessee Police Department’s Patrol Division, Criminal Investigations Division and SWAT Team at the Travel Inn in the 800 block of Lynn Garden Drive. The man is being held on probation violations out of South Carolina and Wise County, VA.

“Statement by Town of Big Stone Gap Police Chief Stephen Hamm: It is with a heavy heart that I must inform our community of the line of duty death of Officer Michael D. Chandler. His battle to survive today was truly miraculous. But, he succumbed to his injuries around 7:00 p.m. this evening at the hospital with his family at his side. Mike’s loss will be felt by our town and across all of Wise County. Not only did he serve as an officer with the Town of Big Stone Gap Police Department, but also as a volunteer with the Big Stone Gap Fire Department. 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.

I ask that the media respect the family’s wishes to not contact them during this incredibly difficult time.”

Contact 276-228-3131 to reach Virginia State Police with helpful information.

UPDATE: Virginia State Police say Officer Chandler “stopped out” with a person who asked him to perform a welfare check on another person at a vacant home. When Officer Chandler made it to the home, there was at least one person there, and during the encounter Chandler was shot.

A Wise County Sheriff’s deputy was first to arrive and found Officer Chandler lying unconscious in a ditch along a roadway to the home. His patrol car and another vehicle were found at the home with no other person being located.

Officer Chandler was first taken to Norton Community Hospital and then flown to Johnson City Medical Center where he is still being treated for critical injuries.

The Big Stone Gap Police Department, Wise County Sheriff’s Office, Wise County Commonwealth’s Attorney Chuck Slemp and the U.S. Marshals Service are all working the case.

“If anyone has any information related to this incident, please contact the Virginia State Police at 276-228-3131 or at The United States Marshals Service is offering a $10,000 reward for information that leads to the location and apprehension of the person who shot Officer Chandler.”

EARLIER STORY: Virginia State Police are investigating an incident just outside the town limits of Big Stone Gap, where an officer was shot early Saturday morning.

Posts on the Town of Big Stone Gap and Scott County Sheriff’s Office Facebook pages say Officer Michael Chandler was seriously injured in the line of duty.

State police say the officer was responding to a residence on the 2500 block of Orr Street before 5 a.m.

According to VSP, the officer was taken to Norton Community Hospital for treatment of life-threatening injuries.

Anyone with information concerning the shooting is encouraged to call the Virginia State Police at 276-228-3131 or by email at

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