MORGANTON — Authorities said a U.S. Forest Service officer and his service dog were shot and killed as they attempted to apprehend a man suspected of killing his parents.
Burke County Sheriff Steve Whisenant said the assailant, Troy David Whisnant, 38, was shot and killed Wednesday after a manhunt north of Morganton.
Forest Service officer Jason Crisp, 39, of
, was shot around 2:30 p.m. during the manhunt that involved more than 100 local, state and federal officers. Whisenant said Crisp had been ambushed, his police dog killed and his .45-caliber pistol and magazine were stolen. Marion
About two hours later, officers found Whisnant in some woods and he was shot by officers after he had fired at them, the sheriff said.
Gov. Pat McCrory said Thursday he was traveling to
to spend time with Crisp’s wife and the first responders involved in the incident. Burke County
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of the victims of yesterday’s tragic events in
, especially U.S. Forest Service Officer Jason Crisp and his service dog,” McCrory said in a statement. Burke County
“I also want to thank our first responders and law enforcement officers for their courage and valor in responding to these devastating events.”
Steve Ruppert, special agent in charge with the Forest Service, said the agency is mourning the “tragic loss.”
Crisp began his career as a timber marker on the Grandfather Ranger District and graduated from the
in 2005, said Liz Agpaoa, regional forester with the agency. Federal Law Enforcement Training Center
“Jason took great pride in his work on the grandfather,” Agpaoa said. “He was a very kind and understanding man who could light up a room with his sense of humor. He will be missed by all who knew him and had the fortune to work with him.”
The sheriff said deputies had been asked by co-workers to check on a couple because the woman had not been at work since March 7. Deputies found the bodies of Levi and Rhonda Whisnant. Investigators think the couple had been killed earlier.
Stolen vehicles from the home prompted deputies to search for Troy Whisnant, son of the man and stepson of the woman. One of the vehicles, a pickup truck, was found near the Burke-McDowell county line
Dozens of local, state and federal law enforcement officers converged on
Fish Hatchery Road. Crisp was shot when he confronted the murder suspect.
Earlier in the day, law enforcement officials determined that Whisnant was involved in a hit and run accident at a private residence and later stole a wrecker. The suspect eventually abandoned the wrecker and attempted to break into a nearby shed, according to the N.C. Department of Public Safety.
A short time later, the homeowner dialed 911 after observing the suspect run from the shed into a heavily wooded area nearby. As a result, Crisp and his canine, Maros, were called to assist in tracking and locating the suspect.
During the search, Crisp and the dog came upon the suspect, and the suspect shot both of them. The suspect then stole Crisp’s service weapon and fled deeper into the woods.
An Avery County Sheriff’s deputy and troopers assigned to
, who were near the shooting, came to the aid of the fallen federal officer and immediately attempted to perform life-saving measures. Burke County
Sheriffs’ deputies, troopers, agents, and correction officers continued to pursue the suspect and eventually encountered him along a stretch of roadway. Upon making contact, two troopers and an
deputy ordered the suspect to lie down on the ground. The suspect refused to comply and instead pointed a firearm at them. The deputy and troopers returned fire, fatally wounding the suspect. Avery County
Both troopers and two ALE agents were placed on administrative duty, which is standard operating procedure, as the State Bureau of Investigation completes an investigation of the shooting incident.