Two sheriff’s deputies killed in Buchanan County, two more in serious condition

A robbery suspect opened fire on Buchanan County Sheriff’s deputies Sunday afternoon, killing two and serious wounding two others.

An intense search by State Police and Buchanan County officers found the suspect and after what State Police Sgt. Steve Lowe called “some kind of engagement,” police killed suspect.

“I’m not sure what the confrontation was when they encountered him,” Lowe told The Roanoke Times. “Apparently he was identified as the right person.”

The deputies responded to a robbery call at a salvage yard in Vansant after the owner called and said he had blocked the suspect’s vehicle from leaving the yard with his own.

When Buchanan County deputies and Sate Police troopers arrived, the suspect opened fire. Two deputies went down and died at the scene.   Two other deputies were shot when they arrived at the scene.

Two hours later, police found the suspect and he died.

According to the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Department, the two deputies killed were Neil Justus and Billy Stilner,  The injured deputies are Shane Charles  and Eric Rasnake.

A candlelight vigil is scheduled at the Buchanan County Courthouse tonight.

When a police officer goes down, it reminds us that no one is safe.  These men and women put their life on the line, often for pay that is barely above the poverty level.

Our condolences go out to the families of the four officers shot and especially for the two that died in the line of duty.

(Updated at 6:52 a.m. Monday, March 14, 2011)

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