Suspect who fatally shot himself in Gastonia standoff identified - News, Weather & Sports

Suspect who fatally shot himself in Gastonia standoff identified


The suspect who ended a six-hour standoff in Gastonia when he shot himself Tuesday has been identified as 49-year-old Richard Grant Smeltzer. He died at the hospital just before 9 p.m. Tuesday.

Gaston County Police said it started when officers tried serving Smeltzer "several" arrest warrants for sex crimes at a home on Scott Drive. Officials say the suspect answered the door with a gun in his hand.

He did not point the gun at officers, but officers backed off. This is how the standoff began.

Throughout the afternoon, loud booms rang through the air, coming from gas munitions, used to try and get the man out of the house. Captain Curtis Rosselle said negotiators had to take it slow when talking with the man at the center of the standoff.

"Threats to himself, threats to whoever may come in. Time was on our side," Rosselle said.

Family members gathered around the scene, hoping to see their loved one make it out unharmed.

Joy Willis, Smeltzer's aunt, said he has a criminal history, but she does not believe he did what he is accused of. 

"He said he'd never be took back to prison. He's done a lot wrong, and I'll be the first to admit that. But these allegations, I do not believe. I think he was a caged rabbit and knew he had no way out," Willis said.

Rosselle said negotiators were able to talk to the man who barricaded himself in his home and thought because of this, the standoff would end without anyone getting hurt.

"It gave us hope throughout this situation, that he would come out," Rosselle said.

Willis said she believes her nephew would not have shot himself if police had let family talk with him.

"We asked the police to let us talk with him, but they wouldn't," Willis said.

Rosselle said they almost never let family talk to someone at the center of a standoff situation, especially in a situation like this one, when the suspect is threatening to harm people.

Police did not fire any shots. No officers were hurt. Officials did not release what exactly Smeltzer was charged with.

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