3 first responders shot while responding to fire in Rowan County, deputies say

ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. — Three first responders were hurt in a shooting while responding to a house fire in Rowan County, the sheriff’s office said.

Rowan County firefighters were called to the home on Mahaffey Drive in Rockwell just after midnight Friday morning. The 911 callers reported a fire at the home and that a person might be inside, the sheriff’s office said.

Firefighters found flames shooting out of a mobile home and a person at the back of the home. The person, 45-year-old Ronald Wayne Green, was the only known resident. According to the sheriff’s office, he had a gun and began shooting when firefighters arrived.

That was when police arrived at the scene, and deputies said Green fired more shots. A firefighter was shot in the process, the sheriff’s office confirmed.

According to the sheriff’s office, officers exchanged gunfire with Green, which resulted in Green being fatally shot.

The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office said several deputies were involved in this incident but only one sustained an injury. That deputy has been identified as Robert Clement.

An unnamed officer was shot in the face. Clement suffered a shotgun blast to his left hand, and an unnamed firefighter was shot in the face and the leg, according to officials.

The firefighter and one officer were from Granite Quarry, law enforcement confirmed. The other officer was a Rowan County deputy. All three were at home recovering Friday night, the Granite Quarry chief confirmed.

The officers helped the firefighter before getting treated themselves, the sheriff’s office said.

One neighbor was shocked when she heard the news of the shooting.

“I just can’t believe people would shoot other people trying to help them,” said neighbor Tammie Safrit. “I’m just glad nobody else got killed, that they are going to be OK.”

Another neighbor a few doors down said they could see the fire from their porch.

“I wasn’t really sure, you could see flames going up in the air,” they said. “At first I thought it was a camp fire and just somebody shooting.”

Here’s how they described the gunfire:

“It was like a big ‘boom’ and then a couple seconds later, you hear another ‘boom’ and then after a little while you hear something go ‘bang, bang, bang, bang, bang’ and then it just all went quiet,” they said.

Granite Quarry Mayor Brittany Barnhardt released a statement about the shooting, saying, “Following an emotional morning, we are thankful to know our officers and firefighters are fairing as well as possible during this time. I personally would like to thank all neighboring and partnering agencies for their support and assistance without hesitation.”

Per standard protocol, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation is assisting Rowan County Sheriff’s Office with the investigation.

Channel 9′s Hannah Goetz returned to the scene later Friday and saw the SBI bringing out what looked like evidence bags from the scene and loading them into their cars.

Check back with wsoctv.com for updates.

(WATCH BELOW: Woman found dead inside house that caught fire; no foul play, Gastonia police say)

Hannah Goetz

Hannah Goetz, wsoctv.com

Hannah is a reporter for WSOC-TV.