UPDATE: Struggle over deputy's gun leads to fatal shooting in Rh - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Struggle over deputy's gun leads to fatal shooting in Rhea Co.

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UPDATE: A Rhea County deputy shot and killed a man in a hospital emergency room early Friday morning. Steven Howell, 23, of Spring City was killed at Rhea Medical Center around 2:30 a.m.

"A weapon was drawn. (Howell) was able to take the weapon from the officer, and there was a struggle over the weapon," said Rhea County Investigator Rocky Potter.

Police arrested Howell for domestic assault earlier in the morning. When he got to jail, officers noticed he needed medical attention and took him to the hospital. That's when officers said Howell became aggressive and belligerent.

"Physically and verbally. It could be heard by the ER staff," Potter said.

An officer was with Howell in his exam room when he somehow wrestled the deputy's gun out of his holster. That's when a second deputy arrived to help.

"The second officer that entered the room at that time had to fire a shot," Potter said.

Moments later, an ER doctor pronounced Howell dead. Although the 23-year-old didn't have a history of violence against police officers, he had been previously arrested on assault, theft and drug charges.

Two months ago, Howell was picked up on outstanding warrants for aggravated domestic assault against his girlfriend. Documents show Howell allegedly threatened her with a knife, at one point stabbing the mattress next to her, and said she "wouldn't make it through the night."

As protocol TBI agents interviewed the officers involved in Friday's shooting. Right now they are not releasing the names of deputies or how long they've been on the force.

Neither deputy was injured. No one else was injured at the hospital. TBI is investigating the shooting and both officers will be on paid administrative leave until that investigation is complete.

The District Attorney General requested TBI to investigate a shooting at 2:38 Friday morning in the Emergency Room at Rhea County Hospital. 

Earlier in the morning, Steven Howell, had been arrested by Rhea County deputies on suspicion of Domestic Violence, but once at the jail, authorities discovered he had injuries which required medical attention. 

While at the ER, Howell continued to remain belligerent and combative. He was in a treatment room alone with a Rhea County deputy when, at some point, Howell was able to get the deputy's gun from his holster. 

A struggle for the weapon ensued, during which a second deputy fired his service weapon, hitting Howell. An Emergency Room doctor pronounced Howell dead a few moments later. 

The investigation into the actions of the two deputies remains ongoing at this point, with the cooperation of the Rhea County Sheriff. 

The names of the two deputies have not been released

and the specifics about their current status with the department are unknown. 
PREVIOUS STORY: The Rhea County Sheriff's department confirms a deputy was involved in a fatal shooting at the Rhea Medical Center emergency room overnight.

Police say 23-year-old Steve Howell was arrested for domestic assault and taken to the Rhea Medical Center ER. 

Police say Howell became belligerent and aggressive at the ER and a struggle ensued with a deputy in the exam room. Another deputy came in, at which point there was a struggle over one of the deputy's guns.

The second deputy shot and killed Howell. Officials are not saying how many shots were fired or where. 

Neither deputy was injured. Both are on paid administrative leave pending an investigation. Their names are not being released at this time.           

According to Rhea County jail records, Howell had a criminal history of assault, theft and drug charges. Friday morning's arrest involved domestic assault against family members.  Before this morning's arrest, Howell was most recently arrested June 28, 2014, for aggravated domestic assault.   

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is investigating the incident. 

This is a developing news story. Stay with Channel 3 for updates.
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