JONESVILLE — A Wilkes County deputy was shot and injured, and the man suspected of firing the shot was killed, during a shoot-out early Monday morning.
According to information from the State Bureau of Investigation, James Monroe Barrett, 60, of 3659 Bethel Road, Jonesville, exchanged gunfire with deputies responding to a domestic dispute involving Barrett. Officials also believe Barrett set a house on fire before retreating to the woods, with law enforcement in pursuit.
Barrett was reported dead at the scene. Wilkes County Operations Major Chief Deputy David Carson reported that Barrett “was shot and killed by law enforcement this morning after exchanging fire with them.”
In a press conference with Carson, he reported that deputies were fired upon once they arrived at the scene. Wilkes Sgt. Steven Russell, a 12-year veteran with the force, sustained injuries before being airlifted to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
Carson stated during the conference that Russell is “doing well” after sustaining a gunshot wound to the shoulder. An email from Carson later in the day noted that Russell “is in the hospital and in good condition.”
According to Eric Morrison, director of Wilkes County EMS, at about 5:55 a.m. Wilkes County EMS was dispatched to a reported gunshot in the 700 block of North River Ridge Road. Wilkes County EMS transported three patients from the scene, including one patient transported earlier by ground to Wake Forest Baptist.
A patient who had refused earlier transport has now been taken to Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital in Elkin with non-life threatening injuries. One additional person was evaluated on the scene but not transported. The suspect was pronounced deceased on the scene and was not transported.
Dark smoke from the fire could be seen against a backdrop of overcast skies Monday morning from where the reported shooting occurred.
The incident occurred between Clingman and Jonesville, and much of Bethel Road was blocked to traffic during the manhunt.
Merry Lowe, who owns about 60 acres neighboring where the incident occurred, said Monday afternoon that she heard ambulances about 6 a.m. “I was leaving headed to work and when they told me what was happening, I went back and got my mom out and brought her with me,” she said.
“My husband refused to leave because he was burning places,” Lowe added, noting that at one point the suspect was on their property and they were afraid he’d follow their trail to the river. “I heard from a neighbor they were sending some of the neighbors out in armored cars because there are a lot of elderly people in the neighborhood.
“It was very scary,” she said, adding that the whole community is upset about the injuries to the victims.
While there are rumors that the incident involved hostages, Wilkes sheriff’s officials said there was no hostage situation.
The investigation is ongoing.