Nonprofit to hold benefit ride for fallen officers

Kara Fohner, News-Topic, Lenoir, N.C.
·2 min read

May 3—A local nonprofit established last year to support law enforcement is holding a benefit ride to support the families of two officers who were fatally shot near Boone last week.

Kim Watson-Pitts, who started Back the Blue from Caldwell with her husband, Jeremy, said that proceeds from the ride will be donated to the families of Sgt. Chris Ward and K-9 Deputy Logan Fox of the Watauga County Sheriff's Office.

Ward and Fox were sent to the home of George Wyatt Ligon, 58, and his wife, Michelle, 61, on Hardaman Circle east of Boone the morning of April 28 after one of the Ligons didn't report to work and no one answered telephone calls, the Watauga County Sheriff's Office said.

Ward and Fox were both shot as they entered the home. Other officers were able to rescue Ward, who died at a hospital in Johnson City, Tennessee. Fox died at the scene.

The man who shot them, Isaac Alton Barnes, 32, Michelle Ligon's son, also is thought to have shot the Ligons. He was found dead inside the house late Wednesday after a 13-hour standoff. Authorities previously said Barnes appeared to have died by killing himself, but that has yet to be confirmed, Watauga Sheriff Len Hagaman said.

Watson-Pitts said that the lineup for the ride will start on Saturday at 9 a.m. at Xcel Fitness, 2008 Clement Blvd. in Hickory, which is near L.P. Frans Stadium. As cars line up, organizers will ask for donations. The convoy will leave at 11 a.m., drive up U.S. 321 to Boone and turn onto U.S. 221, ending at Hollar and Greene Produce Company on Cabbage Row Drive, Watson-Pitts said.

There, the Run of the Son Christian Motorcycle Club will hold a benefit. The benefit was originally planned to support the club, but the club has offered to donate some of their proceeds to support the Ward and Fox families.

Back the Blue from Caldwell was established last summer as a way to show support to law enforcement officers in the community.

"Morale has dropped significantly in the law enforcement world in the last 12-18 months. We wanted to stand up and show that they do in fact have support," Watson-Pitts said. "We just felt like we needed an organization to be able to give folks a space to show their support and to show their appreciation."

Reporter Kara Fohner can be reached at 828-610-8721.

Reporter Kara Fohner can be reached at 828-610-8721.