Police said the recently-hired manager of a small town in Virginia shot himself in the head on Tuesday, ending a standoff, after a woman went to court accusing him of harassment.
Officers arrived at the apartment of Christiansburg Town Manager Steve Biggs around midnight after getting a 911 call, and went inside after hearing a gunshot about four hours later.
Biggs, 53, was flown to a hospital with life-threatening injuries from the apparently self-inflicted gunshot, town officials said.
Court documents show that a 23-year-old Christiansburg woman filed a complaint against Biggs last month, claiming he had always been "obsessive" toward her, and had begun harassing her and sending her hateful text messages.
A judge issued a three-day emergency protective order against Biggs on March 8, but declined to grant a subsequent 15-day protective order after holding a hearing, court records show.
State police also investigated, but Montgomery County's prosecutors found no probable cause to charge Biggs with stalking or any other crime.
The married father of three served for nearly two decades as town manager in Clayton, North Carolina, before coming to the southwestern Virginia community in July.
Clayton Deputy Town Manager Nancy Medlin said he was looking for a new challenge in Christiansburg, and his wife remained in Clayton so that their youngest daughter could finish high school there.
Medlin described Biggs as a "real family man" and great friend who is passionate about his work. She said she communicated with him periodically since he left North Carolina, and he seemed happy.
"I'm in shock this morning along with everyone else," she said.
The protective order was first reported by The Roanoke Times. In her complaint, the woman claimed, among other things, that Biggs was "using his position" to "look up" her friends and had threatened one of them.
Biggs denied that he harassed the woman in interviews with the Times last week and on Monday. He said the two had a friendly relationship and he gave her financial help. He said the woman was simply offended by his comments.
"I offended ... I never threatened," he told the newspaper on Monday.
In court documents, Biggs accused the woman of seeking to "discredit and undermine" his standing "professionally and in the community."
Follow Alanna Durkin Richer at http://twitter.com/aedurkinricher. Read more of her work at http://bigstory.ap.org/journalist/alanna-durkin-richer.