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‘Spiritual hospital’: Watauga Co. church, used as staging area, turns back to place of refuge after deputies killed in shooting

Updated: May. 2, 2021 at 9:00 PM EDT
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WATAUGA COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - The Watauga County community is mourning.

They lost two of their first responders who were killed last week while responding to a call.

Mount Vernon Baptist Church was used last Wednesday as a staging area during an hours-long standoff that ended with two Watauga County deputies dead.

Sgt. Chris Ward and Deputy Logan Fox died after they were shot responding to a welfare check near Boone last week.

Isaac Alton Barnes, the suspected shooter, also died after reportedly fatally shooting his mother and stepfather -- George andMichelle Ligon.

At that same church, the congregation is still grieving.

They came together Sunday to pay tribute to the deputies who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

“The outcome of Wednesday was not the outcome any of us wanted so I wanted to give our church family some perspective on how we process that,” Mount Vernon Baptist Senior Pastor Todd Houston said.

A staging ground for law enforcement on Wednesday returned to a place of refuge Sunday.

“To share with my family here, sorry, the sadness, and the grief, and to hear a message that says it’s OK to be sad and it’s OK to grieve and it’s OK to have questions, and it’s OK to be angry because that’s there too,” said Kate Jones, a church member of 40 years.

The church turned to the power of prayer as a way to heal the pain.

“We’ve got a lot of kids that participate and their dads are these sheriffs, their cousins, uncles, aunts,” said Recreational Pastor Eric Henderson.

The message in church was a reminder that help for all is at church.

“This is where you go when you’re hurting, this is a spiritual hospital,” Henderson said.

Funeral services will begin at 3 p.m. on May 6 at Appalachian State University’s Holmes Convocation Center in Boone. Doors will open to the public at 1 p.m. All guests will be required to wear face coverings. Face coverings will be provided for those guests who do not bring them.

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