Father of Wilkes County deputy dead after shooting at son’s co-workers

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WILKES COUNTY, N.C. -- The father of a Wilkes County Deputy Sheriff is dead after a deputy-involved shooting that occurred at 5047 Congo Road Monday night.

At about 9:07 p.m., deputies responded to a shots fired call. Upon arrival, they encountered 64-year-old James Eugene Burgess, who they say was ordered to show his hands, but instead began firing at them.

A press release from the sheriff’s office says Sgt. V.E. Byrd and Detective R.J. Adams returned fire, as both they and Burgess retreated. Two sheriff’s vehicles were hit as a result.

“I didn’t know what was going on because it was so close. Then all of a sudden here comes police cars galore and you think, ‘Things like this don’t happen in your front yard,’ and it terrified me,” said Barbara Calloway, who watched from her porch across the street.

The sheriff's office then dispatched their tactical team, who responded with an armored vehicle.

“It was a long night and a scary night because they said he was still on the loose,” Calloway recalled. “I could hear them getting out and I could hear them loading their guns and stuff.”

Upon its arrival, the vehicle used its light to illuminate the property and deputies observed Burgess lying on the ground, apparently injured. He was then pronounced dead at the scene with at least one gunshot wound to the chest.

“It was terrible,” Calloway said. “It was heartbreaking.”

Deputies say it is unclear if Burgess was killed by one of their shots, or one of his own.

“They were in their line of duty” Calloway added. “They had to do their job.”

Detective J.B. Gryder was also on the scene at the time of the incident.

Both Byrd and Adams are on administrative duties pending the completion of the investigation, which is being handled by the State Bureau of Investigation.

None of the deputies were injured as a result of the shooting.

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