Lawrence Co. Sheriff's Deputy Called A Hero - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Lawrence Co. Sheriff's Deputy Called A Hero

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(Photo from LawrenceburgNow.com) (Photo from LawrenceburgNow.com)

LAWRENCE COUNTY, Tenn. - A Lawrence County Sheriff's deputy is being called a hero after decided to go in to a domestic call without backup. He was shot by the suspect, who was killed during a shootout.

It happened just after 6:30 p.m. on Dogwood Lane in Leoma. Officials said someone called 911 and said there was a fight between an estranged husband and wife at the location. Deputy Byron Shelton responded to the scene alone.

At a press conference Wednesday morning, officials said the closest backup was 30 minutes away. Shelton decided to go in alone because he feared for the woman's life.

"Due to Officer Shelton's heroism, he saved this lady's life without a doubt," said Deputy Chief Terry Beecham.

When Shelton got there, there was a shootout between him and a male suspect on the scene. 

"It's under investigation as to who fired on who first, the number of shots fired, but a gun battle did ensue," said Beecham.

The suspect, identified as 42-year-old Whit McCormack, was shot and killed by the officer. Deputy Shelton was shot twice, once in the stomach and in the leg. Shelton called for back-up, and he was taken by lifelight to Vanderbilt University Medical Center with critical wounds. He was in stable condition Wednesday morning. 

"Law enforcement is like a family. We all care for each other," said Deputy Chief Terry Beecham. "This is what you train for and hopefully you don't have to use it." 

"He went in without backup, that's what we have to do sometimes. He did a fantastic job. In my mind, he is a hero," said Lawrence County Sheriff's Deputy Bradley Smith.

McCormack's father said the couple was going through a divorce after 24 years of marriage. The couple had been separated about eight months. The suspect's father said Corporal Shelton and McCormack knew each other.

The Lawrence County Sheriff's Office has turned the case over to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

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