VANSANT, Va. — A sniper hiding behind a tree on a wooded hillside in rural southwest Virginia killed two sheriff’s deputies from long range with high-powered rifle and wounded two other officers during a shootout Sunday. After a search, authorities caught up to the gunman, and police said he was shot to death when he pulled a pistol on officers.
The two deputies injured were in critical condition yesterday, authorities said.
The shootout began when Buchanan County deputies went to investigate a suspected robbery at Roger’s Service Center in Vansant. Roger Daniels, who owns the salvage yard, said yesterday that he and a deputy noticed a man hiding behind a tree.
The deputy ordered the man to come out of the woods and show his hands. “So we started walking towards him,’’ Daniels said. “He brought that rifle around there and we’d seen it. At that time we hit the ground.’’
Daniels took cover underneath a pickup truck. He could not see the shootout after that, but estimated that at least 50 shots were fired.
The injured deputies were Erik Rasnake and Shane Charles; those slain were Cameron Justus and William Stiltner.
The suspected shooter, Randy Newberry, was discovered by police about 2 hours later, about a quarter-mile from the salvage yard. He was standing in a front yard talking on a cellphone with his back to the officers, ignoring orders to put his hands up.
Newberry turned around, drew a pistol, and officers shot him, authorities said.
Residents said such violence is rare in the rural area of about 1,000 people.
A candlelight vigil for the four officers was held last night.