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By LARRY CHAMBERS
INDEPENDENCE — A Grayson County deputy sheriff returned home June 2 from Wake Forest University Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., after being treated for a gunshot wound.
That same day, the suspects in his shooting were in court, where one of them received a new charge for attempted capital murder.
Deputy Douglas Waller received a wound to his lower abdomen while responding to a domestic dispute call June 26 at a residence at 3016 Skyline Highway (Virginia 89), about six miles south of Galax.
Waller and Deputy Kevin Watson were dispatched to a call from Crystal Sue Gooslin-Wheatley, 47, who reported her husband was drunk and they were arguing. When Waller walked up to the door, he saw Gary Frank Wheatley, 44, of Galax, allegedly pointing a gun.
“Waller tried to jump out of the way but a shot from a .357 Magnum pistol came through the window in the door and struck him at the bottom of his bulletproof vest,” Sheriff Richard Vaughan said.
After Watson returned fire, the suspects surrendered.
Wheatley was charged with two counts of attempted capital murder and use of a firearm in the commission of a felon, and Gooslin-Wheatley was charged with felony possession of ammunition.
Since the incident, Gooslin-Wheatley also has been charged with attempted capital murder (principal in the second degree).
Vaughan said investigators learned that Gooslin-Wheatley knew her husband had a gun and knew his intentions to use it if she called the sheriff’s office. She allegedly didn’t tell the dispatcher about the gun or Wheatley’s intentions.
Vaughan said Waller wore his bulletproof vest whenever he was on duty. “Wearing a vest isn’t mandatory but we strongly recommend it to all deputies. This is a good example of a vest helping to save the life of a deputy.”
Waller underwent surgery for four hours to remove the bullet and a piece of his intestine.
The two suspects appeared in Grayson County General District Court on June 2 for appointment of counsel. Independence attorney Jonathon Venzie was appointed to represent Wheatley. Brandon Boyles, also of Independence, will represent Gooslin-Wheatley.
A tentative trial date of July 30 was set in the case.
Both are being held in the New River Valley Regional Jail in Dublin without bond.
Vaughan said Gooslin-Wheatley has a pending charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, stemming from an August 2011 incident. He said 14 long guns, pistols and assault rifles, along with nearly 2,000 rounds of ammunition were seized from her residence by Grayson County deputies.
While he recuperates, Waller has been posting messages to his friends and well-wishers on Facebook.
“I want to thank everyone for their comments, prayers, visits and phone calls,” Waller wrote. “But most of all, I wanna thank my Heavenly Father for keeping his hands on me this entire time. Nothing can take you outta this world until God gives the authority.
“I also want to thank my vast law enforcement family for all you’ve done. Words will never describe how much you mean to me.”