Officers from the Mount Gilead Police Department and fire personnel responded to the scene of the fully engulfed home. Officer Cloninger collapsed while at the scene of the fire and rescue personnel immediately began life-saving efforts. He was transported to FirstHealth Montgomery Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead shortly after midnight.
Officer Cloninger served as a reserve officer with the Mount Gilead Police Department and as a full-time officer with the Biscoe Police Department. He had 19 years of law enforcement service and had previously served with the Richmond County Sheriff's Office and Montgomery County Sheriff's Office. He also served with the Ellerbe Rescue Squad. He is survived by his wife and two daughters.