Three Mobile County Sheriff’s deputies have been placed on administrative leave following an officer-involved shooting that left a 66-year-old suspect dead in the Semmes area Dec. 10.
According to Capt. Paul Burch, the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) dispatched multiple officers to a home at 6900 Lott Road that night after receiving a 911 call from a resident in the area complaining of a neighbor “behaving erratically” and carrying a gun around outside of his residence.
“Our deputies responded to the scene, and upon their arrival, they tried to communicate with him,” Burch said at the scene. “At some point during the exchange of conversation, the suspect fired upon the deputies, and deputies returned fire. The suspect was shot, and he is deceased.”
MCSO officially confirmed the deceased suspect to be 66-year-old Terrance Edward White Wednesday morning. Records indicate White retired from the city of Mobile after 31 years with the public works department. So far, though, it’s still unclear what led to White’s actions that night, but investigators have given the impression there had been some domestic issues in the past.
White doesn’t have any history of arrests locally, but MCSO spokesperson Lori Myles told reporters last week previous domestic dispute calls had been reported from the same home. According to Myles, during one 911 call related to a domestic dispute in 2015, White’s wife told dispatchers he had “threatened to kill her, himself and kill any deputy who responded.”
Burch said investigators interviewed White’s family and friends to try to piece together what might have caused him to behave erratically, to arm himself or to open fire on the responding deputies. Some of White’s family members have suggested on social media there could have been some issues with prescription drugs White was taking, and Burch confirmed similar statements were made to investigators.
When speaking to reporters, Sheriff Sam Cochran has also described the incident a “suicide by cop,” saying White was intitally seen “holding a gun to his head” before he opened fire on deputies.
The shooting was investigated by MCSO’s Major Crimes Unit and as well as its Internal Affairs Unit separately, though the sheriff said the criminal investigation has already been completed and turned over to the Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich’s office to determine if any charges are warranted.
According to MCSO, three deputies were involved in the shooting, all of whom have been placed on administrative leave per the department’s policy for officer-involved shootings. On Tuesday, the officers were identified as Corporal J.T. Thornton, Deputy Nathaniel Kersten and Deputy Owen Bradley.
At this point, it’s unclear how many shots each officer fired or how many actually struck White. Burch said White’s body has been transported to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences for an autopsy on the night of the shooting but those results have yet to be released publicly.
Last week, Burch described the fatal outcome of the incident as unfortunate.
“It’s unfortunate we weren’t able to resolve this situation peacefully, but we tried to communicate this with him,” Burch said. “This is something no one ever wants to do, but they did what they had to do to protect themselves. I’m glad that [the deputies] are OK.”
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