In the third questionable Gastonia, NC police shooting in one month, a witnesses is contradicting police statements.
After 52-year-old veteran William Dean Poole was shot by police Monday night, officials claimed he had opened fire on the officers. A neighbor says however, that Poole never pulled his gun on the cops.
Officers were called to Poole’s residence at 130 Wedowee Lane, south of Gastonia, by the National Veteran’s Hotline which the man had called expressing a plan to commit suicide.
The caller told the operator Poole had mentioned owning guns, had talked about “taking out others before himself,” but had urged the hotline not to send police, saying it “would not end well.”
Officers said they arrived to find Poole sitting on his riding lawn mower in his front yard. After police identified themselves and began approaching, the officers claim he pulled out a gun and opened fire. Four unidentified officers shot back, killing the man.
J.C. McDowell who lives across the street from Poole is telling another story however. He says after officers approached Poole, they ordered him to put his hands up.
McDowell says he could see Poole start to pull his arms up, and that’s when they fired. “I just can’t get that image out of my head,” he said.
McDowell says he never saw Poole reach for his gun or fire it at officers.
“They did not have to shoot,” he said. “They come out here with guns pointing, looking like they want to kill everybody. That would startle anybody. It startled that old man.”
The incident is currently under investigation by the SBI.
SBI agent Tony Underwood could not confirm whether Poole fired his gun at officers.
“There’s still a lot we’re examining,” he said. “We want to wait until we have an opportunity to interview the officers to see what their statements are.”
Poole suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder but, according to his medical records, had never been violent before. He lived with his wife, who was home at the time.
The shooting is the third fatal Gastonia police shooting in one month.
In early February, another NC war veteran was shot and killed by a Gastonia police officer when the officer forcible broke into his home to preform a welfare check after concerned family members called police worried because the 74-year-old had just underwent surgery.
In late February, Gastonia Police shot a mother of two after she called them for help removing unwanted guests from her home.