Sheriff: Iredell Co. deputy placed on leave after shooting man holding gun during domestic dispute

IREDELL COUNTY, N.C. — Officials said an eight-year veteran of the Iredell County Sheriff's Office has been placed on administrative leave after she shot a man during a domestic disturbance call Saturday night in Mooresville.

Officials said 54-year-old Peter Hay answered the door holding a gun and Deputy Joanna Smith, fearing for her safety, shot him in the abdomen.


Iredell County Sheriff Darren Campbell told Channel 9 the call involved a father and son.

[IMAGES: Deputy shoots man during domestic dispute in Iredell County]

According to officials, Smith went to the door after she heard screaming coming from inside the home on Tall Oak Drive.

"This is a very quiet neighborhood,” neighbor Jason Salter said. “One way in (and) one way out."

Officials told Channel 9 that Smith repeatedly identified herself as she approached the home.

Campbell said Smith was at the front door when Hay went into another room and approached the door with a weapon in hand.

"She approached and she knew there could be an armed person,” Campbell said. “She heard screaming and still went to do what she could to handle the situation.”

Smith said she gave Hay several verbal commands to drop the gun as he walked toward the door, but he refused.

According to the Sheriff's Office, Hay, who was extremely intoxicated, opened the front door and pointed the gun at Smith. The deputy fired, striking the suspect.

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Officials said Smith was able to secure the suspect's weapon and provide medical aid to Hay until paramedics arrived.

"It appeared, absolutely, she followed our policy," Campbell said.

The sheriff said the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation was requested as part of the standard protocol in officer-involved shootings, and Smith has been placed on administrative leave while the Sheriff's Office conducts a parallel internal investigation.

“I always want our officers to come home safe. In this case it appears the deputy responded appropriately to the threat of deadly force she faced, and did everything possible to protect herself and the victim who called us for help. While Deputy Smith was rendering medical aid to the suspect a witness heard him stating, 'I should have just shot her,'” said Campbell.

Several neighbors told Channel 9's Briana Harper they heard a single gunshot late Saturday night and were surprised something like this happened so close to home.

"We've enjoyed this community, and it's always been safe,” neighbor Bruce Schutt said.

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"Domestic problems are a huge thing to be careful with, because you don't really know what's going on,” Schutt said.

Schutt said he has lived in the neighborhood for 15 years, and this is the first violent incident he's heard of.

He also said he is familiar with the family involved.

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"Knew the kids,” Schutt said. “They used to come by as kids and rake leaves and do some stuff around the house."

Channel 9 learned the deputy was not injured and Hay was transported to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Hay has been charged with felony assault with a firearm on a law enforcement officer and misdemeanor communicating threats.

This is an ongoing investigation. Check back with wsoctv.com for updates.

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