WATAUGA COUNTY, N.C. - The owner of the Blue Ridge Diner in Watauga County told Eyewitness News that she was just coming to grips with the loss of her friend, Deputy William Mast.
Mast was shot to death in the line of duty Thursday. Tina Watson called him a man of integrity who went out of his way to keep his community safe.
"He would always come through the parking lot, if there were stray cars he would question what they were doing here," said Watson.
Mast responded to an open 911 call at a mobile home in the 2000 block of Hardin Road around 1 a.m. The home is in the Deep Gap community of Watauga County, about five miles from Boone.
Investigators said whoever made the call didn't say anything and didn't hang up the phone. Deputies said a woman’s voice could be heard in the background and there might have been children at the home at the time of the shooting.
State investigators said that when Mast arrived, Mitchell Trivette opened fire, killing him. A second deputy, Preston Russell, arrived three seconds later and returned fire, killing Trivette, investigators said.
Channel 9 uncovered, through court records, that Trivette has been arrested in the past. He was arrested in 2003 and charged with communicating threats. Records show he pleaded not guilty and was found not guilty in that case.
Channel 9 also found there were other 911 calls made from the home where the shooting occurred during the last 10 years. Three of those calls were hang-up calls. The Sheriff’s Office investigated but didn’t find any problems with any of those calls. They went to the home one time and the other times, they called back to make sure everything was all right.
Friends said Mast's family was still in shock Thursday night. They said his wife is pregnant with their first child and their wedding anniversary was slated for next week.
"As I stopped to see the family, they're dealing with it very hard," said Watson.
Thursday, deputies wore black fabric over their badges in Mast's honor. The case was turned over to the SBI to investigate. Thursday they did not say what led to the shooting.
Flags were lowered to half-staff in downtown Boone Friday.
Watauga County Sheriff Len Hagaman told Channel 9 when he first learned of the shooting, he and his wife immediately said a prayer together before heading out to the scene.
“It leaves a hole in all of our hearts, but by the same token, he is going to be with us. I know every time that the officers go out, they will be thinking of him, and he is probably going to be watching out for them as well,” said Hagaman.
Visitation for Mast will be held Monday 6 – 9 p.m. at Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Boone.
Funeral services for Deputy Mast will be conducted Tuesday, July 31st at 2 p.m. at Mount Vernon Baptist Church. Masonic graveside services and burial with law enforcement honors will follow at the Mast Family Cemetery. In lieu of
flowers, memorials may be made to the William Hunter Mast Scholarship Fund, in care of Highland Union Bank, 1013 NC Hwy 105, Boone, NC 28607.
The family will receive friends Monday evening, July 30th, from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. at Mount Vernon Baptist Church. Online condolences may be sent to the Mast family at www.austinandbarnesfuneralhome.com.
For additional information, please contact the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office at (828) 264-3761.