RALEIGH — An Army veteran who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder was killed in an exchange of gunfire with law enforcement at a church in the North Carolina mountains, officials and a charity said Thursday.
The shooting on Wednesday happened after officers from multiple agencies responded to an emergency call claiming four people were shot, according to a statement from the State Bureau of Investigation.
When officers arrived at Maple Grove Baptist Church in Waynesville, the emergency call turned out to be false. The SBI said there were no shooting victims, and the only person at the church was 44-year-old Wade Allen Baker of the nearby community of Clyde.
A short standoff ensued, and Baker exchanged gunfire with officers, authorities said. He was pronounced dead at the scene. No officers were hurt.
Special Agent Shannon O’Toole, an SBI spokesman, said he couldn’t provide further details of how the shooting happened.
On the 911 recording, a male caller doesn’t sound confident in what he’s telling the operator when he says there’s someone with a gun at the church. When pressed for details about what’s happening, the caller mumbles before saying he thinks the gunman has shot four people. He then hangs up.
When the operator calls back, the man becomes angry and responds with expletives when asked again about how many people are shot. He declines to identify himself.
“Just hurry up and get here” he says, a few seconds before hanging up a second time.
Haywood County Sheriff’s Sgt. Heidi Warren, who released the calls, said she couldn’t comment on who placed the call.
A service dog trained to help Baker was found unhurt at the scene and is being returned to his family, said Nicole Shumate, the executive director of the Paws & Effect charity in Iowa. The charity trains service dogs to help children with autism and veterans with PTSD, brain injuries and problems with mobility.
Shumate said Baker, who previously lived in Marshalltown, Iowa, suffered from PTSD and was referred to the charity by a Veterans Affairs doctor in Iowa. He received the dog in 2012 and had regular follow-up communication with the charity.
The charity said his service record shows he served in the Army from 1989 to 1998 in the mechanized infantry, serving in the Gulf War in the early 1990s.
His family released a statement through Shumate saying he was survived by his wife, six sons and three daughters.
“We are grateful that no other members of our community were injured,” the statement said, adding: “We are struggling to understand these events.”