- Associated Press - Monday, March 14, 2011

VANSANT, Va. (AP) — A small southwestern Virginia community again is dealing with a deadly shooting rampage that this time killed two deputies and critically wounded two more before the suspect, who may have been trying to rob a salvage yard, was fatally shot by police.

Buchanan County deputies investigating at Roger’s Service Center in Vansant on Sunday afternoon were met by gunfire from long range, Virginia State Police said. Deputies Cameron Justus and William Stiltner were hit and died at the scene, and two others who arrived also were shot, according to state police Sgt. Steve Lowe.

Deputies Erik Rasnake and Shane Charles, who both are in critical condition, were being treated at separate hospitals, police said.

The suspected shooter, Randy Newberry, was killed by police.

Christina Stiltner lives across the street from the salvage yard and had just walked into her home with her 10-year-old son when she heard “pow, pow, pow.”

She opened her front door and saw one deputy run into a neighbor’s yard. She heard another “pow,” and the deputy went down. He was one of the injured, she said.

“It scares you so much,” she said. “I sat there thinking, ‘What’s the number to 911?’ It shocked me so badly, I didn’t know the number to 911.”

Residents said such violence is rare in the rural area of about 1,000 people, though in January 2002, a student opened fire on the Appalachian School of Law campus in Grundy just down the road from Vansant after learning he had flunked out of school.

The school’s dean, a professor and a student were killed in the attack. Three other students were wounded. The shooter, Peter Odighizuwa, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison.

“This is a laid-back community. Everybody knows everybody,” said Tivis O’Quinn, 68, who has lived in Vansant for 40 years and operates a business less than a mile from the salvage yard. “Nothing like this ever takes place, except for the law school shooting.”

Police did not release what sort of weapon was used, but Sgt. Lowe said the suspect shot from long range. The owner of the salvage yard told police his business was being robbed and he had blocked the suspect’s vehicle with his own.

After the shooting, the search was on for the suspect. State police and other officers found him about two hours later, and after “some sort of engagement” they shot and killed him, Sgt. Lowe said.

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

Sgt. Lowe said he didn’t know if the man fired on police or if he was armed at the time.

Ms. Stiltner said she knew all the deputies involved in the attack because they would often stop by the gas station and restaurant where she works.

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