GASTONIA, N.C. (WBTV) – Gaston County Police are trying to figure out what led a gunman to allegedly kill a man, wound a woman, get into a gunfight with police and wound two officers. That man was then shot and killed.
Police say their initial investigation shows the gunman died when between four and seven officers returned fire.
The two officers, who were shot in their legs, were transported to Caramount Regional Medical Center in Gastonia. They were reportedly alert and talking.
Police said it all started Saturday night at approximately 9:18 p.m. when they received a call from a home along Greenwood Drive.
Investigators said “the caller reported a male subject was in the home with a gun. The caller then reported his dad had been shot and the suspect was still in the house.”
Police started to receive several other 911 calls concerning an active shooter on Greenwood Drive.
A woman who works in a nearby convenience store told WBTV she could see a police presence mounting.
“Cops and ambulances started pulling up in the parking lot,” she said. “And then next thing you know like seven or eight cops over here started getting guns out their trunks and everything.”
Gaston County Police Acting Chief Joseph Ramey said when police arrived, the gunman was outside a residence “holding a shotgun and wearing a pistol.”
“Upon arrival, officers were confronted with a suspect who was armed,” Ramey said. “That suspect engaged officers. Two officers were shot and have non-life threatening injuries.”
The worker in the convenience store said “we heard about 10 to 15 rounds of shots go off. It was loud, that’s for sure. Boom boom boom boom.”
Police said a man, whose name is not being released until his relatives are notified, was found shot to death at a second location in the neighborhood.
Officers say a woman was located at another home on Greenwood Drive. Police said she was shot and has minor injuries.
Police are not saying the relationship between the victims and the shooter, but a family member told WBTV’s Coleen Harry the gunman and the woman who was wounded were in an on again off again relationship.
According to neighbors, the man who was killed by the gunman lived in the neighborhood.
Chief Ramey said one of the wounded officers is a veteran; and the other is “fairly young.” Ramey said he couldn’t recall their exact years of service.
Gaston County Commissioner Chad Brown went to the hospital to check on the condition of the officers.
Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Tracy Philbeck sent out social media posts. He wrote on Twitter: “2 Gaston County officers shot tonight. Please keep our officers in your prayers. More info to follow as I know more…”
Chief Ramey said “it’s very disturbing when you have men and women that you’re close to, that you appreciate the hard work they do day in and day out – to hear they’ve been shot.”
He said their “concern was making sure the officers as well as the other victims are okay.”
“I know from the last 18 months police have been under the microscope. Officer-involved shootings are a difficult thing to follow right at the moment for us but our officers are professionals,” he continued. “They acted professionally in this incident here.”
Police say there are three separate investigations into the shootings.
Gaston County Police are investigating the shooting of the two victims. The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation has been called in to investigate the officer-involved shooting. Gaston County Police Professional Standards Unit will conduct a parallel investigation to see if policies and procedures were followed.
Police said the Gaston County officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative Leave with pay pending the completion of the investigation.
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