Officers shoot man accused of holding person at gunpoint, Gaston County police say

GASTON COUNTY, N.C. — A Gastonia man is facing a series of charges after a shootout with police that ended with the suspect shot in the head on Sunday afternoon, according to the Gaston County Police Department.

Police said they responded to several calls in the area of Stoney Oaks Drive in Gaston County for reports of suspicious activity throughout the day Sunday. When they responded for a third time around 4:30 p.m. a 911 caller said an unknown man was holding a gun to their father’s head.

After the suspect ran and a short search ensued, a man -- identified as 33-year-old Matthew Curtis Bufford -- allegedly shot at police and K-9 officers, police said. GCPD Chief Joseph Ramey said officers returned fire and Bufford was grazed in the head.

No officers were hurt in the shooting, Ramey said.

“Anytime you have someone of this nature out in the community -- it’s alarming,” Ramey told Channel 9. “We would hope that this would never be a case and that we’d never have to deal with this.”

Bufford has been released from the hospital and is facing a lengthy list of charges that includes four counts of attempted murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon, second-degree kidnapping, assault by pointing a gun, assault on a law enforcement K-9 and possession of a firearm by a felon.

Police said the series of calls began around noon on Sunday after reports of a suspicious vehicle on Stoney Oaks Drive in southwestern Gaston County.

Ramey said investigators found an abandoned car in the bushes off a private road with a loaded rifle inside, but no driver. Officers confiscated the gun, towed the car and moved on, Ramey said.

Then before 3:30 p.m., Ramey said officers were called again to the area after neighbors reported hearing gunshots. One neighbor told Channel 9 they believe the shots were fired at his home.

“The officers conducted a search, but could not locate anyone and at this point, did not have evidence of a specific crime,” Ramey said.

About an hour later, around 4:30 p.m., police got a third call. This one, was more serious than the last two.

“A resident stating that his father was being held at gunpoint in his garage on Stoney Oaks Drive,” Ramey said.

The victims said the suspect ran away, so officers began a second search of the area with help from a K-9 officer. According to police, the K-9 team located another rifle and a second abandoned car.

When officers approached it, Ramey said that is when Bufford began firing on them.

“My understanding is he was in the junked vehicle and rose up out of the vehicle and began to fire,” he said.

Ramey said a bullet grazed Bufford’s head.

“We are very fortunate that our citizen was not harmed seriously and that the three officers were not seriously injured or killed,” the chief said.

Gaston County police said the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation will be investigating this incident. Per standard protocol, the officers who were involved in this incident have been placed on leave.

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