Thursday, September 24, 2009

Burnsville, NC: Two dead, one wounded in Yancey murder-suicide

Dale Neal

A Yancey County man fatally shot himself in the head in front of deputies after killing his neighbor and seriously wounding his estranged wife at a home off Bearwallow Road late Wednesday.

Yancey sheriff deputies responded to 286 Bearwallow Road around 9:35 p.m. Wednesday after a 911 call from a woman who said she had been shot.

Deputies found Thomas Marion Griffith 52, lying in the driveway leading to a garage near his house. Griffith was dead from gunshot wounds to his head and upper torso, according to Lt. Thomas Farmer of the Yancey County Sheriff’s Department.

In the woods, officers found Richard Lee Buchanan, 61, armed with several handguns. "They begged him to drop the weapons,” Farmer said. But Buchanan refused and instead raised a gun to his head and shot himself in front of the deputies.

Buchanan was flown to Memorial Mission Hospital where died at 4:10 a.m. today.

Other officers made their way to Griffin’s home where they found Monalisa Phillips 37, suffering from at least two gunshot wounds to her chest area. Also inside the house was her 7 year old son who was not harmed during the incident.

Phillips and her son had barricaded themselves in the bathroom when several shots were fired into the house, Farmer said.

Phillips had been married to Buchanan for 18 months, but had recently separated, moving out of the house at 145 Bearwallow Road. She taken out a restraining order on Buchanan on Aug. 31, Farmer said.

“Richard and Tom had known each other and had been friends. They all knew each other,” Farmer said.

Phillips was transported by air ambulance to Johnson City Medical Center in Johnson City, Tennessee where she underwent surgery for multiple gunshot wounds. Preliminary reports indicate that Phillips is expected to recover.

Farmer said the investigation is continuing with the assistance of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation and the North Carolina Highway Patrol in the investigation.

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