Virginia officer shot during welfare check dies; man arrested after 'extensive search'

Police chief: 'This should have been a day to celebrate his 29th birthday - not a day to mourn his passing'
Posted at 10:21 PM, Nov 13, 2021

BIG STONE GAP, Va. -- A suspect was apprehended at a Tennessee motel after a police officer, shot while performing a welfare check, died Saturday evening, according to authorities.

Troopers were called to the shooting in the 2500 block of Orr Street of Big Stone Gap just before 5 a.m., according to Corinne Geller with Virginia State Police said.

Officials said Big Stone Gap Police Officer Michael Chandler stopped with a person just after 4 a.m. who asked him to conduct a welfare check on a person at a vacant home in the 2500 block of Orr Street.

"When Officer Chandler arrived at the residence, he encountered at least one individual," Geller said, "It was during this encounter that Officer Chandler was shot."

A deputy from the Wise County Sheriff's Office found Officer Chandler lying unconscious in a ditch along the home's driveway, officials said.

"His patrol car and another vehicle were both at the scene, but there was no other person at the scene," Geller said.

Officer Michael D. Chandler

Slain officer was also volunteer firefighter, police chief says

Officer Chandler, who was flown to Johnson City Medical Center with life-threatening injuries, died of his injuries Saturday evening, Big Stone Gap Police Chief Stephen Hamm said.

"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," Hamm said. "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."

Man apprehended at a Tennessee motel

Troopers said a 33-year-old Big Stone Gap man was apprehended just before 8 p.m. at the Travel Inn on Lynn Garden Drive in Kingsport, Tennessee, following an "extensive search and investigation by local, state and federal law enforcement."

The suspect, who was arrested without incident by Kingsport Police, is being held on probation violations out of South Carolina and Wise County, Virginia. Officials said charges related to the shooting are pending.

The investigation into the shooting remains ongoing in coordination with Big Stone Gap Police, the Wise County Sheriff's Office and Wise County Commonwealth's Attorney Chuck Slemp, officials said.

The United States Marshals Service offered a $10,000 reward for information that led to the location and apprehension of the person who shot Chandler.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact Virginia State Police at 276-228-3131 or at

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email to send a tip.