Isaac Alton Barnes is the North Carolina man who authorities say shot his mother and stepfather George and Michelle Ligon to death before murdering two Watauga County sheriff’s deputies in a 13-hour standoff in Boone.
Sgt. Chris Ward and Logan Fox were identified as the North Carolina sheriff’s deputies who were shot and killed by Barnes during the standoff at Barnes’ parents’ home. For a time, Fox was trapped inside the home.
This is a picture of Deputy Fox, who was a K-9 handler. There are GoFundMe pages for the families of Sgt. Ward and Officer Logan. Here is the page for Ward’s family. Here is the page for Fox’s family.
Barnes killed his mother and stepfather, Michelle Annette Ligon and George Wyatt Ligon, authorities say. Online records say Barnes was 32-years-old and lived in Boone with the couple he killed.
Here’s what’s known about the tragedy, as well as background on each victim.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Barnes Died of Suicide After Murdering Four People
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Watauga County Sheriff Deputy Sgt. Chris Ward and Deputy Logan Fox," the Albemarle Police Department posted after two deputies were shot in a deadly standoff in Watauga County https://t.co/nQdziu6r2z pic.twitter.com/BljQaQDf4v
— WBTV News (@WBTV_News) April 29, 2021
For hours, Barnes was inside the home firing guns toward officers. After 13 hours, the standoff came to an end, when the suspect died of suicide.
The Ligons were found deceased inside the home.
According to WSOC-TV, the deputies responded to the Hardaman Circle area in Boone around 9:45 a.m. on April 28, 2021, “after the homeowner and his family did not go to work and was not answering phone calls.”
Deputies were shot as they entered the home to do a welfare check, the television station reported.
“This is an incredibly tragic situation and our thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved as well as their families and our community,” said Watauga County Sheriff Len Hagaman to WSOC. “I greatly appreciate the tremendous support we are receiving from law enforcement agencies across the region and the state.”
2. The Suspect Was Known to Police & had a Large Arsenal of Weapons, the Sheriff Says
LEOs were responding to a welfare check at a residence when they were ambushed by 32-year-old Isaac Alton Barnes. Barnes allegedly killed Sergeant Ward (right) & Deputy Fox (left) along w/ Michelle & George Ligon, who were inside of the residence with him. https://t.co/XYwQNE8cSU pic.twitter.com/J6LK0WJ8dN
— The Citizen Reporter (@TCReporter) April 29, 2021
Sheriff Len Hagaman told WSFA that Barnes was known to the department, which had calls about him on Sunday.
“There was familiar concern that he might try to do something,” Sheriff Hagaman said to the station, adding that the suspect had a “fairly large arsenal of weapons.”
He added to WRAL: “They were just kind of giving us the heads-up – this is what he’s thinking about doing – and for us to be careful.” The television station said the sheriff claimed Barnes had a plan for “taking people out.”
3. Victim George Ligon Was a Branch Manager at Terminix
According to his Facebook page, George Ligon was a Branch manager at Terminix (a pest control company) who studied at Appalachian State University and Lees-McRae College. He went to South Mecklenburg High School.
In 2016, he shared a wedding photo with Michelle and wrote, “10 Years ago today, Michelle Ligon made me a very proud and grateful and Lucky man. I Love you sweetheart and look forward so much to the next 10 although i wish they would slowdown a little!!”
His page is mostly filled with joking or inspirational memes.
4. Michelle Ligon Was a Social Media Manager
Michelle Ligon previously was chair of the board of directors for NC Daniel Boone Heritage Trail, Inc., and was planning committee chair of the Boone Heritage Festival and a member of the board of directors of the Southern Appalachian Historical Association, Inc.
“Michelle is responsible for the season opening of Horn in the West 2013. Without her hard work, there would not be a show this season! Many thanks to Michelle for all her hard work!” a LinkedIn recommendation for her reads.
She is a graduate of Appalachian State University.
In October, Michelle Ligon wrote on Facebook about her husband, “Happy birthday to my #1, my travel partner turned forever, my shelter, my handsome beach bum, my always humble husband. I love you always and forever. I’m ever grateful you were born because life is a lot better with you in it.”
Michelle Ligon’s LinkedIn page says she was Director of Public Relations and Social Media at Explore Boone.
Greta Lint wrote on Facebook, “Michelle and I were friends. When she started at the Boone CVB, she asked me to be a mentor for her – and a friendship was born. Later on, she hired me to write stories about downtown Boone. Oh, we had fun….I had a really good taste of what downtown Boone was all about. She was passionate about her work, was a happy-go-lucky person and smiled all the time. I never knew there was trouble at home…The North Carolina tourism family is a close group of professionals who compete against each other, yet work together to promote our beautiful state. We lean upon one another for information, leads and opportunities to work together. Michelle understood that process and loved to promote the High Country – and the rest of our great state. She will be missed by those of us who worked with her and who remember her.”
5. People Remembered Sgt. Ward as a ‘Great Man’; Fox Was the Department’s K-9 Handler
According to WFSA, Ward, 36, had been in law enforcement for eight years. He was married to his high school sweetheart and had children ages 19 and 5. He previously worked for the Beech Mountain Police Department.
People wrote tributes to Ward on social media.
“He was such a great man. We will never forget…” wrote one. “Broken… he was a great police officer,” wrote another.
Sgt. Ward’s second cousin Donna Ward told WJHL they “come from a law enforcement family.”
“Just heartbreak,” she said. “I told her I pray for them each and every day. I’m on my knees each and every day praying for these people. I pray for everybody, but these officers, they have a tough job. I mean they’re out here to serve and protect and people just don’t get it, they don’t.”
Ward’s Facebook page said he was married, studied at Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute, went to Watauga High, and was from Sugar Grove, North Carolina. He and his wife have children, according to his Facebook page.
He shared photos with the filter “a blue family” and tributes to other fallen officers. #hislifemattered read the caption on a photo of one fallen officer superimposed on the thin blue line flag. He posted tributes honoring William Mast, a deputy who was shot and killed while responding to a call in 2012:
That tribute was his cover photo on Facebook.
Deputy Fox was 25 years old. According to WBTV, Fox had been with the department for two years. He was a K-9 officer who had a dog named “Raven” and previously worked as a deputy for the Ashe County Sheriff’s Office.
Senator Thom Tillis wrote on Twitter, “Susan and I are heartbroken Sgt. Chris Ward with the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office was killed in the line of duty. We are praying for his family, the officer wounded, and the community they served. A tragic reminder of the dangers our law enforcement officers face every day.”