NORTON — A well-known newspaper family is in mourning for one of its own in Southwest Virginia.
Michael N. Tate, 47, succumbed to injuries inflicted by a gunshot wound. The son of the late Carroll Tate, founder of the Coalfield Progress newspaper in Norton and of the Norton Press Inc. business that included two other weekly newspapers in its fold, Tate died on Tuesday at Johnson City Medical Cent e r.
Tate, a former president of Norton Press that formerly owned the Coalfield Progress, was apparently target shooting with a family member at the Norton Reservoir early Sunday evening when he was injured.
Although holding down a company president title at one point, the 47-year-old Tate was probably best known for his sports column in the Coalfield Progress, “The Dope Bucket,” that focused on local and regional high school athletics. The column was started by his father and became a family tradition carried on by his son even after the newspaper was sold.
Tate’s sister, Jenay Tate, is the publisher and editor of the Coalfield Progress.
On Wednesday, Norton Police Department Lt. Joe Baird said the department received a call of a person injured by gunshot at 6:23 p.m. Sunday and responded to the Norton Reservoir parking lot, an area traditionally used by locals for many years as an unofficial target range.
“People go up there and shoot pretty much all the time,” Baird said.
The firearm that discharged was a handgun, but Baird declined to divulge any other details because the matter is still under investigation. Baird is the lead investigator in the matter.
Norton has had more than its share of extraordinary shooting incidents lately, including the shooting death of a young woman involving a former member of The University of Virginia’s College at Wise football team, a husband/wife murder suicide, and the gunshot death of one of the Norton P.D.’s most respected officers, the late Capt. Roger C. Cooke.
Cooke’s death, which is still under investigation by the Virginia State Police, was at least initially thought to possibly be another accidental discharge incident. Cooke was killed on Christmas Day.