CANTON — Deputy Eric Batchelor with the Haywood County Sheriff’s office was shot early Tuesday morning while responding to a Canton area disturbance.
Batchelor is in serious but stable condition after undergoing surgery.
The individual fired at officers and struck a deputy. During the exchange of gun fire, the suspect was struck and died at the scene. He was later identified as Jacob Wilbur Wright, 32, of Canton.
In a text message to The Mountaineer, Sheriff Greg Christopher expressed thanks to the community for their support for his deputy who was injured.
“I want to thank everyone for their prayers and concern for Eric and his family,” Christopher said.
Law enforcement officers from the Haywood County Sheriff’s office and Canton Police department answered a call on Old Asheville Highway early on July 28, where it was reported an individual armed with a rifle was causing a disturbance..
The individual fired at officers and struck a deputy before he was shot.
The investigation, which is being conducted by the North Carolina SBI, shut down both lanes of Old Asheville Highway near the Haywood-Buncombe line until about 11 a.m. Tuesday.
A statement released by the SBI stated that the preliminary investigation shows a deputy and two officers were responding to a possible disturbance off of Asheville Highway (U.S. 19 and 23) just after 2 a.m. on Tuesday, July 28.
“Upon arrival, officers say they encountered an armed suspect standing on a billboard, and there was an exchange of gunfire,” the statement read. “One deputy from the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office was injured and is being treated at a local hospital. The Haywood County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed the deputy’s identity. No other officers were injured.”
The two officers from the Canton Police Department who were involved have been identified as Cpl. Anthony Reece and Officer Kendal Foster.
The investigation is ongoing and no further details are being released at this time.
On the scene were the SBI, Canton Police Department, Haywood County Sheriff’s Office, Asheville Police Department, Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office and the North Carolina Highway Patrol. In addition, broadcast media from the region — including Upstate South Carolina — showed up.
Upon clearing the scene, which apparently unfolded near Charlie’s Flea Market, no evidence remained to give any clues as to how the scene unfolded.
In addition, residents contacted along that stretch of Old Asheville Highway — which doesn’t have many homes — declined to comment.