The family was worried because the elderly vet just had serious heart surgery and wasn’t answering their calls.
A family in Gastonia, NC is mourning the death of 74-year- old James Howard Allen after police broke into his house and shot and killed the elderly man late Saturday night. Allen’s sister, Mary Battle, only received word about her brother’s death after the story aired on the Sunday news.
The State Bureau of Investigations has launched an investigation into the shooting.
Allen’s family said he had just had serious heart surgery, and they could not get ahold of their relative, so they called authorities and asked them to perform a welfare check. When police arrived at 10:30 p.m., they said there was no answer at the door, so they left.
When Gastonia Police returned an hour later at 11:30 p.m. they decided to enter through the back door of the residence.
That is when they allege they found Allen standing there holding a gun; he may have mistaken the police for intruders.
The officers allege they gave Allen several warnings to drop the weapon, but the disoriented man did not obey and Officer Josh Lefevers shot and mortally wounded the Army vet.
Gaston Police Chief Robert Helton told WSOC TV:
Announcements were made that police were on scene, he was challenged to lay the gun down. The gun was pointed at direction of officers and a shot was fired that fatally wounded him.
The officer who fired the shot was placed on administrative leave, which is standard police procedure.
However, the family is left wondering how this went so wrong.
Allen’s brother-in-law, Robert Battle, told WSOC:
(He) probably woke up, someone’s breaking in on me, so when you’re by yourself you try to protect yourself.
Otis Thompson, a friend of Allen’s, said if were in Allen’s situation he his first reaction would be to “grab a gun too.”
You kicked the man’s door in. He’s disoriented and he’s in his own house, privacy of his own home.
The sister of the victim, Mary, said:
I am so hurt that he had to die like this. Maybe the police were frightened. Maybe they were. I don’t know. But he wouldn’t hurt a fly.