An elderly North Carolina war veteran was shot and killed by a Gastonia police officer Saturday, after the officer forcible broke into his home to preform a welfare check.
Gastonia Police were asked for a welfare check on 74-year-old James Howard Allen, around 10 p.m. Saturday night by Allen’s relatives.
Allen had just underwent surgery and the family was concerned for his well-being, police say.
Police say an officer went to Allen’s home on Mary Avenue around 10:20 p.m., and got no answer at the door.
Just after 11 p.m., police called area hospitals but didn’t find Allen, so an officer returned to his home.
Allen’s car was in the driveway and neighbors reported seeing Allen the previous day, police say.
After officers contacted a supervisor, the decision was made to enter Allen’s home through the back door. Police called Gastonia Fire and EMS at 11:30 to request additional help ‘breaking in.’
After forcibly entering the residence, police say officer Josh Lefevers announced his presence before being confronted by Allen, who had a gun.
“He was challenged to lay the gun down,” Gastonia Police Chief Robert Helton said. “The gun was pointed in the direction of the officers, and a shot was fired that fatally wounded him.”
A State Bureau of Investigation review of the shooting has been launched.
Officer Lefevers has been placed on administrative leave.
“Somebody kicks your door in, comes in your house, your first instinct is defend yourself,” longtime family friend Otis Thompson said. “I’m kind of shocked. I can’t believe something like this could have happened.”
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