SAWMILLS, N.C. -- The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation is investigating after a 75-year-old Caldwell County man died during an officer-involved shooting on Wednesday night.
According to the SBI, the shooting happened when county deputies responded to a 911 call at the home of Donald Smith, Sr. near the intersection of Leta Lane and Kane Circle in Sawmills, North Carolina.
The agency said Smith called 911, telling dispatchers he was suicidal and that he had a gun.
When deputies responded, the SBI said they tried to de-escalate the situation before Smith raised his gun. Christopher Hopper was just down the street when deputies confronted Smith.
"We heard 'Get on the ground!'" Hopper said. "Then we heard two shots."
The SBI said a deputy fired two gunshots as Smith fired his weapon.
The agency said the deputy's gunshots hit Smith's torso, while a third gunshot wound, believed to be self-inflicted, was found in his head.
The SBI believed the gunshot wound to the head was what killed Smith.
Neighbors said Smith was diagnosed earlier this week with cancer.
They said his wife died in 2001, and his son, Donald Smith, Jr., died last year in a workplace accident.
"He felt like he didn't have nobody that was there for him," Hopper said.
Amanda Hudgins lived in the home behind Smith's property. She said his loved ones' deaths and his recent cancer diagnosis took its toll.
"[He was] always joking, always full of life, always messing with the kids," Hudgins said. "I just hope he finally rests in peace."
The SBI said agents will continue interviewing witnesses, and an autopsy will be conducted at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
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