Family questions Sheriff's Office tactics after loved one shoots self in standoff
A grieving family is questioning tactics after their loved one committed suicide. They say law enforcement officers didn't do enough.
Family members say they weren't allowed to make contact with a man who'd holed himself up in a Bradley County animal clinic.
Officers tried to negotiate with him and held their perimeter but he took his own life.
"No he would not have hurt anybody he's never hurt anybody," says Victor Stewart. "Never."
The grieving family is questioning tactics after their loved one committed suicide. They say law enforcement officers didn't do enough.
"And I begged them, three different officers, let one of his family, let me or my sister talk to him," Victor says. "I've talked him out of a situation like that before."
Larry Stewart's little brother Victor tells Channel 3, Larry was apparently overcome by his circumstances.
"He was in a lot of grief," Victor says. "He had a son to kill himself a couple years ago maybe two, two and a half years ago; his wife passed away of cancer maybe a year ago."
At the Appalachian Animal Clinic on Spring Place Road, a disagreement of some sort over an ailing cat led him back out to his vehicle. When clinic employees saw him returning with a shotgun, they fled through a back door.
The Sheriff, city and federal officers responded and made contact.
"He was going to kill someone, kill himself, and if we was to come in he was going to shoot us," Bradley County Sheriff Eric Watson tells Channel 3.
But, this is where his description of events differ with that of the family that says it asked if they were allowed to make their plea to Stewart.
"I do not know," Sheriff Watson says. "I was told that one of the family members tried to call him on the phone. However, by the time they got here, the shot had already been fired."
"I was there 15 minutes before all that, begging them to let me talk to him," Victor says. "But they wouldn't do it."
Around 12:17 p.m., Stewart took his own life. Shortly after, a robot was deployed to confirm the danger was over.
"We live in a dangerous time," Sheriff Watson says. "A lot of stress; a lot of people having family problems financial problems and it's sad that he had to resort to take his own life."
"No, I would have loved to have talk to him," Victor says. "Eric Watson should've let me try to talk to him."
The Appalachian Animal Clinic released the following statement on Tuesdays' events:
"Our hearts are broken today. We extend the deepest condolences and an outpouring of sympathy to the family and friends of our longtime client. The safety of our employees, patients and clients is our top priority. Fortunately, no employees or pets were hurt today.
Our client’s cat stabilized on Monday evening and our staff will continue to provide necessary care until the family is ready for a return home. We would like to thank the Cleveland Police Department, Bradley County Sherriff’s Office and US Marshals Service for their timeliness, courage and bravery this afternoon.
Our team’s emotional well-being will be our highest priority in the coming days. Appointments have been cancelled for today and possibly Wednesday. We will post updates of our reopening and rescheduling shortly.
We respectfully ask you refrain from posting negative comments out of respect to all affected by today’s events."
Appointments have been cancelled and the clinic will be closed through Wednesday.