Update — The Sheriff’s Deputy who was shot has been identified as Deputy Robert Wagner, 34.
He has been with the department for two months. His bulletproof vest saved his life.
LINCOLN COUNTY, Mo. – A Lincoln County Sheriff’s Deputy was hospitalized Thursday evening after he was shot in the chest while responding to a call. The suspect in the case was later found dead.
This all unfolded Thursday night around 6:25 p.m. at a home on Creech School Road. Deputies responded to the home of 54-year-old Thomas Varvera Jr. for a domestic disturbance call.
Corporal Thompson shared that when deputies arrived, they made contact with Varvera outside the home. Thompson said Varvera started shooting at the deputies, hitting one of them in the chest.
After the shooting, Thompson told FOX 2 that Varvera set his own house on fire and then ran to a large, nearby shed still on his property. The Missouri Highway Patrol SWAT team was called in to help find Varvera.
You may have received an alert on your phone as the search developed.
Officers used a drone to help locate Varvera. He was eventually discovered dead inside the shed. The deputy was rushed to one nearby St. Louis area hospital then transferred to another one.
Thompson spoke about the risks of domestic disturbance calls.
“Domestic disturbances are always one of the worst calls a deputy or any law enforcement officer can respond to because you don’t know what’s happening inside that house,” Thompson expressed. “You get a call to an incident or a disturbance, you don’t know what’s going on inside the minds of the people involved. So it’s always a very dangerous situation to go into.”
Authorities have not released whether the deputies fired back at Varvera. Investigators believe the deputies bulletproof vest likely saved his life. At this point, authorities are not releasing how Varvera died.
We’re told Varvera was married but was home alone when everything unfolded.
As for the deputy, we’re told he was in surgery late Thursday night and is expected to survive. The deputy’s name is not being released.
FOX 2 will update this story with more information as it becomes available.