CALDWELL COUNTY, N.C. — A 75-year-old man was killed Thursday in an officer-involved shooting in Caldwell County.
The shooting was reported outside the man’s home on Kane Circle near the town of Sawmills.
Channel 9 reporter Dave Faherty learned that deputies were initially called to the home by the man after he threatened to kill himself.
Chris Hopper shared a photo of the victim, Donald Smith, who was his neighbor and friend.
The two often worked together on Smith's truck. Hopper didn't see the shooting but heard the exchange of words and shots coming from his neighbor's home.
"We heard two gunshots and the SWAT team saying, ‘Get down on the ground,’” Hopper said.
Friends said the Smith had been depressed after witnessing his son's death last year in an accident in a garage in which a car fell off a lift and landed on him.
Smith told friends a few days ago that he had been diagnosed with cancer.
"I just can't believe it happened. I really can't. He was always talking about he has so many years left on this planet, and then to hear about what happened is kind of hard,” Hopper said.
The Caldwell County Sheriff's Office confirmed that only one deputy fired his weapon. Because of the state investigation, authorities are not releasing details of what happened immediately before the shooting.
"He was a real good man,” said Smith’s son, Woody Smith.
Family members fought back tears as they remembered Smith, but they said their thoughts and prayers are also with the deputy.
"I'm sorry what he had to go through. I hope the best for him for what he had to go through because I know it's got to be on his mind," Woody Smith said.
Faherty learned that two deputies are on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
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