Watauga Co. deputy fatally shot responding to 911 call
DEEP GAP, NC (WBTV) -
A Watauga County Sheriff's Deputy was killed Thursday morning while responding to a 911 call at a home in Deep Gap.
According to the Sheriff's Office, deputies were called to a home along Hardin Road to the report of an open 911 call at 12:50 a.m. Deputies arrived at the home at 1:04 a.m.
Investigators say the pair was shot at within moments of arriving at the scene.
Watauga County Sheriff Len Hagaman says Deputy William Mast Jr., 23, was fatally injured when the man opened fire on him.
A second deputy returned fire and killed the shooter, who state investigators later identified as Mitchell Allen Trivette.
Emergency crews attempted treating Mast and Trivette at the scene for their injuries, but they were later rushed to the hospital, where both were pronounced deceased.
"It is a sad day for Watauga County Sheriff's Office and the Watauga County community as Officer Mast was a friend and asset to our force and to his community," Hagaman said.
Mast has worked with the Watauga County Sheriff's Office for 3.5 years, the Sheriff's Office told WBTV.
Aaron Norris who lives close by said he went to school with Deputy Mast and that he was saddened by what took place.
"Something like this just doesn't happen in your backyard."
WBTV talked to friends and neighbors of Trivette, and they were saddened by the news as well.
"It is totally out of character for him to shoot someone," neighbor Sandy Arnette said. She said Trivette grew up with her son and was "just like one of my own."
Arnette said what happened is a tragedy for both families and doesn't understand why Trivette would fire on a deputy.
"It shouldn't [have] happened," she said.
According to the Watauga County Sheriff's Office, deputies responded to Trivette's address four or five times over several years. All were for 911 hang-ups that weren't serious.
Deputies and police officers came from across western North Carolina to assist the Watauga County Sheriff's Office Thursday, WBTV has learned, allowing deputies to reflect and grieve.
"I also want to thank other law enforcement agencies in the county for assisting us and the local community, clergy members and businesses for their outpouring of support," Sheriff Hagaman told WBTV.
They will help take over patrolling the county until 7 a.m. Friday morning, and periodically until Mast's burial.
"My heart breaks for the family and friends of Watauga County Sheriff's Deputy William Ronald Mast, Jr., who gave his life in the line of duty early this morning," Congresswoman Virginia Foxx said on Facebook. "I know the thoughts and prayers of thousands are with his wife, Paige, their ...unborn child, his parents, and the entire Watauga County Sheriff's Office today. May they be comforted and find peace in the midst of this tragedy."
"This investigation is going to take some time to complete," Sheriff Hagaman said. "I ask residents and others to refrain from speculation into the details of this incident."
The State Bureau of Investigation is leading the investigation.
Deputy Mast is survived by his wife, Paige Mast, who is expecting a child, and other family in the area.
Funeral services for Mast will be conducted Tuesday afternoon at 2 p.m. at Mount Vernon Baptist Church.
The Sheriff's Office says they are expecting about 3,000 people for the service, which will include a procession through the streets.
The Watauga County Sheriff's Office, along with the Snow Masonic Lodge in Boone, which Mast was a member of, will both handle a part of the service.
The family will receive friends Monday evening from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. at Mount Vernon Baptist Church.
In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to the William Hunter Mast Scholarship Fund, in care of Highland Union Bank, 1013 NC Hwy 105, Boone, NC 28607.