NEWPORT — Giles County sheriff’s deputies, state troopers and other heavily armed law enforcement officers searched houses and wooded slopes Tuesday after two officers reported being shot at — but no shooter was found.
Sheriff Morgan Millirons said Tuesday evening that sheriff’s deputies will continue extra patrols.
Tuesday’s incident, which for several hours locked down county schools and part of the Newport community, began with a gunshot. But Millirons said that the results of the long search left him unsure how significant that shot had been.
“It’s not uncommon to hear gunshots in a rural area … We don’t know if it could have been unintentional — it could have been a stray — we just don’t know,” Millirons said.
State police are now leading the investigation into the shooting, according to a release sent at 9:15 p.m.
In a statement released shortly before 5 p.m., while the search still was going on, Millirons said that soon after 2 p.m. Tuesday, two sheriff’s deputies had driven up to a residence in the 100 block of Lucky Lane, which runs off U.S. 460 in the Newport community. They were there to follow up on an ongoing investigation, Millirons said.
As the two officers exited their unmarked vehicles, a gunshot was heard and debris from the gravel driveway kicked up nearby, the statement said. The two deputies immediately took cover and called for assistance.
There were no reported injuries, Millirons said.
Soon after the shot was reported, officers set up a perimeter and teams began searching an area along Lucky Lane, then between Winding Way and the Newport post office. Two Virginia State Police armored cars arrived and a state police helicopter circled overhead. Officers carrying rifles and wearing helmets and body armor assembled in the parking lots of the post office and the Super Val-U Grocery. At one point, about 20 emergency vehicles crowded the lots and parked along the road, including ambulances and squad cars from several jurisdictions.
A woman who answered the phone at Giles High School said that the school had been locked down during the afternoon and students held after dismissal. Some students who live in Newport were kept at the school even after other students were allowed to go home, she said.
After the search concluded, Millirons said that officers had located residents who also had heard the gunshot. But no one knew who had fired it. Millirons asked that anyone with information about the shooting to contact the Giles County Sheriff’s Office by dialing 911.
Those with information can also contact state police on their cellphones by dialing #77 or by emailing email@example.com.
Millirons thanked other responding agencies including the state police, officers from Pearisburg, Pembroke, Radford, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, and the U.S. Marshals Service, and members of the Newport Rescue Squad.