DOBSON — One Surry County man is dead and a Dobson police officer is recovering from gunshot wounds following a domestic disturbance call early Monday morning.
The injured officer has been identified as Dobson Police Officer Brian Thomas. Sgt. Wayne Banks of the Surry County Sheriff’s Office also responded to the disturbance call. The suspect pronounced dead at the scene has been identified as 51-year old Lonnie Badgett of 412 Adams St., Dobson.
According to Dobson Police Department Sgt. J.R. Gillespie, a 911 call was received by telecommunication officers frantically begging for help at a residence at 412 Adams St. The chilling tape of the call, which was made at 1:08 a.m., has been released by the department. It is marked by desperate, repeated pleas for help at the residence by a female later identified as Lessa Badgett, also of that address.
Information supplied by Gillespie indicates that the officers were met at the door by Lessa Badgett, who was apparently bleeding from a traumatic wound to the head. As the officers were escorting Badgett to a more secure location, suspect Lonnie Badgett was observed by the officers looking through a front window.
According to the report, Lonnie Badgett was observed by the officers to approach the front door from the inside of the residence armed with a handgun. Gillespie said that the officers gave verbal commands to drop the weapon. Badgett fired one round from the handgun towards the officers.
He then stopped firing and retrieved a semi-automatic assault rifle from inside the residence and resumed firing toward the officers, striking Thomas in the ankle. While Thomas was returning fire, he was hit in the left thigh by another shot from Badgett. Thomas then subdued the suspect with his weapon. The gunfight occurred in close quarters in an estimated 30-foot area, according to reports.
Lonnie Badgett was pronounced dead on the scene by Surry Emergency Medical Services. No autopsy had been performed at press time, but preliminary information indicates that Badgett had three gunshot wounds, two in his chest and one to his arm.
Lessa Badgett was transported to Northern Hospital of Surry County in Mount Airy for treatment, and Thomas was transported to Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston-Salem for treatment. North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation has conducted an investigation at the scene.
Based on information given officers, the disturbance escalated over the care of some dogs which had been left in the house during the couple’s trip. One witness’ statement indicated that Badgett seemed to obsess about news coverage of the shootings in Colorado. The witness said he seemed unusually “intent” on all the information about the theater shootings. It is believed the argument later branched off into an argument over gun ownership.
Reportedly, Lessa Badgett had expressed an opinion that people such as the Colorado shooter should not own guns, to which Lonnie Badgett understood her to mean that he should not own weapons. The argument intensified. Police said that at one point a piano bench was thrown at Lessa Badgett shortly before the 911 call.
Police reported that she said Badgett’s “eyes were different” and that he “appeared madder than ever.” At one point during the call, the frightened Badgett set down the phone so she could lay down on the assault rifle to cover it. The report indicates that Badgett’s head wound was a result of being struck by the rifle.
Gillespie said that the suspect fired numerous times with the rifle. Alcohol or drugs being involved was not mentioned in the report. He said there was no history of violence at this residence and that the incident was unusual.
“I would characterize this as a quiet neighborhood,” said Gillespie. “This was an isolated incident completely out of character for this part of town.”
Reach David Broyles at email@example.com or 719-1952.