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Wintergreen Police officer dead after fatal struggle with assault suspect Friday night

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A Wintergreen Police officer is dead after a struggle with an adult male on Arrowood Lane Friday night. The officer was responding to an emergency call that the suspect had assaulted two other adult males at a residence.

The deceased officer was identified Saturday morning as Mark “Chris” Wagner II, 31, of Stuarts Draft.

The suspect was located by Wagner, the first responding officer, in the nearby woods. During the course of a struggle, Wagner was shot and died at the scene. Based on a report from the Virginia State Police, it appears the officer’s gun may have been used in the deadly shooting.

The suspect was taken into custody without further incident by Wintergreen Police and the Nelson County Sheriff’ Office. The suspect has not been identified at this time.

The officer’s department-issued firearm was recovered at the scene in the woods.

After calling police shortly after 10 p.m., the two injured males fled the residence on foot. They are being treated at UVA Medical Center for non-life threatening injuries.

At the request of the Wintergreen Police Chief Dennis Russell, the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Appomattox Field Office is investigating the incident.

The investigation remains ongoing at this time.

Remembering Chris Wagner

Wintergreen officer dead
Chris Wagner

Russell posted a tribute to Wagner on the department’s Facebook page Saturday morning.

“On June 16th, 2023, Chris answered his final call before taking his place with other heroes who have gone before him by laying down his life for the people he swore to protect and serve,” read the post by Russell.

Wagner started his career at Wintergreen in August 2020. He previously served seven years with the Massanutten Police Department starting out as a gate attendant and then becoming a police officer after graduating from the Central Shenandoah Criminal Justice Academy in May 2019.

Wagner was a 2010 graduate of Spotswood High School.

According to the Wintergreen Police Department, Wagner worked the midnight shift.

“Whenever you saw him in the daylight, he wore dark sunglasses and would crack a smile or two. Chris was dedicated to his job and whenever called for extra duty, he was ready, willing and able. His love for the badge was evident, and his commitment to the community was undeniable.

“Chris Wagner, Wintergreen Police Officer ID #15, was and always will be a hero,” Russell wrote.

The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, in cooperation with Wintergreen Police Chief Dennis Russell, are organizing a fundraiser for the family of fallen officer Chris Wagner. As Wintergreen Police Department is a private police department in the Commonwealth of Virginia, Officer Wagner’s family is not eligible for line of duty death benefits from the state.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.