An Army veteran from Gastonia, N.C., was shot and killed by officers who had been sent to check on him late Saturday, the Charlotte Observer reports.
James Allen, 74, reportedly confronted the officers who entered his home with a gun, prompting the shooting.
Gastonia officers were sent to Allen’s home at 10 p.m. on Saturday after a relative could not reach him. The relative was worried about his condition because Allen had recently had heart surgery, Police Chief Robert Helton confirmed in a press conference on Sunday, the news site notes.
An officer responding to the request received no answer at the door around 10:20 p.m., so he left. Authorities then requested a check of local hospitals around 11 p.m., but there was still no sign of the elderly vet.
At around 11:30 p.m., with assistance from the Gastonia Fire Department and Gastonia Emergency Medical Services, the officers went back to check Allen’s house.
“A decision was made to enter the house, concerned that he may be inside in need of emergency assistance,” Helton said, according to the Observer.
The Fire Department helped Officer Josh Lefevers enter through the house’s back door. Lefevers reportedly announced his presence, Helton said. Upon entering, officers met Allen, who was reportedly holding a handgun pointed at the officers.
“He was challenged to lower the gun down,” Helton said. “The gun was pointed in the direction of the officers, and a shot was fired that fatally wounded him.”
Lefevers, a two-year veteran with the Gastonia Police Department, has been placed on paid administrative leave, pending an investigation. The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation has also been investigating the shooting.
“Maybe the police was frightened, maybe they were. I don’t know, but he wouldn’t hurt a fly,” Mary Battle, Allen’s sister, told WSOC TV. “I am so hurt that he had to die like this.”
“[He] probably woke up, ‘Someone’s breaking in on me,’ so then you’re by yourself, you try to protect yourself,” Allen’s brother-in-law Robert Battle added.