Police Shoot and Kill 74-year-old Vet They Were Checking On
A 74-year-old Army veteran was shot and killed by a North Carolina police officer Saturday night, after police were called to check on the man's welfare, the Charlotte Observer reports.
A relative, concerned about James Howard Allen’s condition after a recent surgery, called the Gastonia police to check on Allen.
When an officer arrived at Allen’s door at 10:20 p.m., there was no answer, so he left. At 11:08 p.m., Anson County officials checked local hospitals but Allen wasn’t in any of them. At 11:30 p.m., Gastonia cops asked for assistance from the local fire and EMS to check the house again. This time, they broke in, according to Reobert Helton, police department chief.
“A decision was made to enter the house, concerned that he may be inside in need of emergency assistance,” Helton said.
Gastonia Officer Josh Lefevers entered the home through the back door with the help of the fire department, according to Helton. When officers entered the home, they allegedly found Allen holding a handgun.
“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.”
Allen’s sister, Mary Battle, told WSOC-TV that she learned about her brother’s death while watching the morning news as she was getting ready for church Sunday morning. She said the Army vet underwent heart surgery last week.
“Maybe the police was frightened, maybe they were," she said. "I don’t know, but he wouldn't hurt a fly."
Allen’s brother-in-law Robert Battle thinks the police could have avoided the whole thing, and that Allen was the one who was frightened.
“He probably woke up, someone’s breaking in on me so when you're by yourself you try to protect yourself," Battle told WSOC-TV.
Another friend agreed. “You kick the man’s door in. He’s disoriented and he’s in his own house, privacy of his own home; my first reaction would be to grab a gun, too," Allen’s friend, Otis Thompson, told WSOC-TV.
The N.C. State Bureau of Investigation is reviewing the shooting. In the meantime, Officer Lefevers has been placed on administrative leave.