John E. Edinger, 70, of 349 Beachtree Circle, already had been wounded at least once by his adopted stepson, Michael Coleman Edinger, during a domestic dispute. And as he sought help from a police department dispatcher, the victim asked the gunman not to shoot him anymore — before additional shots were heard, sources say.
Soon after, the younger Edinger, 45, ran from the home he shared with his mother and stepfather and fired on police officers responding, before being shot by Officer Carlos Garcia. Michael Coleman Edinger died later at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.
Garcia, meanwhile, has been placed on administrative leave with pay, pending an independent investigation by the State Bureau of Investigation into the first use of deadly force by Mount Airy police in nearly 40 years.
Friday’s events unfolded around 6 p.m. in an upscale neighborhood just north of Mount Airy Country Club when the younger Edinger allegedly became involved in an argument with his mother Yvonne, wife of John Edinger. The couple had returned from visiting other family members for a Christmas gathering before the dispute, which grew violent with the son allegedly beating his mother.
Police Chief Dale Watson would not confirm this scenario Monday afternoon, explaining that the investigation was still ongoing into what officially has been termed a “domestic disturbance/fight.”
“I don’t want to comment on that at this point,” he said of the alleged assault of Mrs. Edinger, adding only, “The call did originate from a domestic dispute.”
Watson also said that police first learned of the incident through a 911 call from the Ridgeway Drive home of a neighbor. The woman reportedly had fled to that location and meanwhile, her husband also attempted to contact police from his residence and was shot while on the telephone, although this also was not confirmed by Watson.
“I can’t get into that,” he said.
Watson explained that the Mount Airy Police Department is handling the investigation regarding the death of John Edinger while the SBI is probing the officer-involved shooting of Michael Coleman Edinger.
The stepson allegedly had fired multiple shots at the police officers arriving about 6:15 p.m. Friday when he was wounded by Officer Garcia, an eight-year veteran of the force armed with his Glock .45-caliber service weapon. Garcia was not injured.
Edinger fell near a corner of the house in the back yard, where CPR was administered by emergency personnel before the man was transported to the Winston-Salem hospital.
Once the scene was secured, officers located the elder Edinger inside the residence slumped in a chair; he later was pronounced dead at the home.
Since two guns owned by the Edingers reportedly were found at the scene, authorities won’t have a definite idea of which person might have been shot by what weapon and how many times, until autopsies on the men are completed.
Police had encountered no problems with Michael Coleman Edinger before Friday’s shootings, according to Watson.
He said that before Friday night’s incident, a Mount Airy police officer had last fatally wounded someone in the line of duty in 1971. That involved Terry Miller shooting a suspect after a break-in at a former grocery store on the corner of North Main and West Lebanon streets. Miller later became a member of the Surry County Sheriff’s Office and also served as Dobson police chief.
The SBI probe of the police shooting, led by Agent Paula Carson, is expected to take at least two weeks, Watson said. The findings will be turned over to the Surry County District Attorney’s Office.
Chaplains with city and county agencies who counsel law enforcement and rescue personnel after such traumatic events have been called on to assist. They are there to “deal with anyone who was directly impacted,” Watson said.
“It’s a tragic event,” the police chief added of the deaths, especially coming during the holiday season.
Mayor Deborah Cochran has released a statement in the wake of the fatal shootings. “On behalf of the city, we offer our prayers and condolences to the family, the officers and all those affected by this unspeakable tragedy,” it says.
City Manager Barbara Jones and Watson also pointed out that members of the Mount Airy Fire Department, Mount Airy Rescue Squad and Surry County EMS provided key support during the incident.
Contact Tom Joyce at email@example.com or at 719-1924.