Friends mourn South Meck High grad among 5 killed in NC standoff. ‘Gem of a guy.’

Friends mourn South Meck High grad among 5 killed in NC standoff. ‘Gem of a guy.’
George and Michelle Ligon, the husband and wife who were killed in a mass shooting in Watauga County, are being remembered as prominent members of the Boone community. (Source: Wendy Deese)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (The Charlotte Observer) - George Ligon, a South Mecklenburg High graduate killed with his wife and two sheriff’s deputies near Boone, was the “finest of bosses” and the “best friend you could ever have,” those who knew him over the years recalled.

The suspected shooter was his stepson, the son of wife, Michelle, according to the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office. Michelle Ligon was 61 and her husband 58.

K-9 Deputy Logan Fox and Sgt. Chris Ward also were killed during a 13-hour standoff that ended late Wednesday, sheriff’s investigators said. The shooter, 32-year-old Isaac Alton Barnes, died at the scene.

Condolences poured in on Facebook for the deputies and couple, including from George Ligon’s classmates and those who later worked for and with him in Boone.

He attended Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk before transferring to Appalachian State University in Boone, friends said, and rose to branch manager in the Boone region over a long career with Terminix, the pest control company.

“Tragedy has struck the family of one our own from the Class of 1980,” the South Mecklenburg High School Alumni Association posted, while urging everyone to pray for the families of the victims. “We will miss you George.”

ALWAYS MADE YOU LAUGH

Classmates and colleagues recalled a man who always wore a smile and was so fun to be around.

“George knew how to put a smile on anybody’s face,” South Meck High classmate David Isenhour posted.

In an interview with The Charlotte Observer on Friday, Isenhour said Ligon “was just an all-around good guy.”

Isenhour, now owner-broker of Isenhour Properties in Concord, remembers how Ligon would make Isenhour’s mom laugh when she drove them to their Charlotteens dance group at Gross School of Dance in Charlotte.

“He was funny,” Isenhour said. “He enjoyed being around people. His family was that way. Just one of those guys. Friendly. Just enjoyed life.”

‘MY HEART SANK’

Friends on Facebook recalled how much they enjoyed hanging around Ligon, who would always make them laugh so hard.

Kevin Harmeyer of Boone recalled bursting out in laughter each time he chanced upon Ligon in the local Food Lion, Ligon was so funny.

“George was absolutely an amazing person and the best friend you could ever have,” Harmeyer posted.

When Amber Mandel heard the news, “my heart sank,” Mandel told Observer news partner WBTV.

Ligon was like a second father to her, said Mandel, who worked for Ligon for eight years.

“They didn’t deserve this, no one deserved this,” she said. “I don’t know why, only God knows why.”

Thomas South of Boone, who worked for Ligon at Terminix for 5 1/2 years, posted that he was heartbroken over the deaths.

“Go rest high on the mountain, friend, until we meet again R.I.P.,” South posted on Facebook of Ligon.

‘ONE OF A KIND’

Jeremy Dawson told the Observer on Friday that he and Ligon “hit it off right off the bat” when Dawson joined Terminix.

“When you met him, you couldn’t not like him,” Dawson said. “He made it impossible. He had a huge smile, he had a huge laugh that was just infectious., and we hit it off immediately.”

Ligon also mentored him when he decided to start Midstate Wildlife Solutions in Asheboro, Dawson said.

“He’s just one of a kind.” Dawson said. “He was just one of these people you run across once in a lifetime ... It’s a terrible loss for that community. He deserves people to know what a gem of a guy he was.”

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