Former Clayton town manager Steve Biggs died Wednesday, one day after shooting himself in the head following a nearly four-hour standoff with police in Christiansburg, Va., where he served as town manager.
A spokeswoman for Christiansburg said Biggs died Wednesday at 3:41 a.m., about 24 hours after police heard a gunshot in his apartment building and found Biggs with one gunshot wound to the head. Christiansburg police and Montgomery County sheriff’s officers were on the scene after responding to a 911 call just after midnight about a potentially suicidal person.
Biggs was first taken to a hospital in Salem, Va., but later airlifted to a hospital in Roanoke, where he died.
Before moving to Christiansburg last year, Biggs served as Clayton’s town manager for 19 years, shepherding it through significant financial turmoil and into a position to be one of the next major Raleigh suburbs. Longtime Clayton mayor Jody McLeod was part of the town council that hired Biggs.
“While we are heartbroken and full of grief and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, I cannot help but to think of the legacy Steve Biggs created and built in Clayton that will live forever,” McLeod said.
Biggs came to Clayton in 1997 from Aberdeen, where he was the town manager. Before that he worked in the planning department in Wendell, eventually becoming assistant to the town manager. In Clayton, Biggs found a town defaulting on its debt payments, but when he left two decades later, Clayton was planning expansive parks projects, not scrambling to balance its books.
Last year, when he left for Christiansburg, Biggs said he wanted a new challenge and wanted to work in a college town or a community with a large hospital. Christiansburg, a southwest Virginia town of 22,000 about 10 miles from Virginia Tech, seemed to fit the bill.
Biggs moved to Christiansburg by himself because his younger daughter still had a year left at Clayton High School. The family has two other children in Virginia.
Current Clayton manager Adam Lindsay notified employees of Biggs’ death in an email Wednesday morning.
“We are all saddened and frustrated with this news,” Lindsay said in the email. “He was our leader for so many years. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, as they are still very much a part of our community. We ask that everyone respect their privacy during this difficult time.”
Lindsay suggested the town would honor Biggs in some way at a later date.
McLeod ordered the town’s flags to fly at half-staff, and Clayton officials made a grief counselor available to employees.
Biggs maintained a sterling reputation in Clayton, but one irregularity exists from his time in Christiansburg. One month before the shooting, a neighbor in Biggs’ Christiansburg apartment building obtained an emergency protective order against him. The 23-year-old woman was granted a five-day order, but a judge denied a request for a 15-day protective order after finding insufficient evidence of a threat to the woman. In the original filing, the woman said Biggs was obsessed with her.
In a motion to dissolve the order, Biggs said the woman was trying to discredit him and undermine his position in the Christiansburg community. He said the statements in the original filing were false and misleading.
Nancy Medlin, Clayton’s deputy town manager, said the news of Biggs’ suicide hit town hall hard. Biggs hired Medlin as the finance director early on in his tenure.
“Our hearts are heavy with this morning’s tragic news regarding Steve Biggs, Clayton’s former town manager,” Medlin said in a statement Tuesday. “Before Steve moved to Christiansburg, he dedicated 20 years of his life to the Town of Clayton, and his family continues to be a part of our community. This tragedy has hit hard in town hall, where countless employees built their careers under Steve’s leadership.”
Drew Jackson; 919-603-4943; @jdrewjackson