Death of Richland Co. deputy ruled suicide - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Death of Richland Co. deputy ruled suicide

(Columbia) March 15, 2007 - The shooting death of a Richland County deputy has been ruled a suicide.

Investigators say veteran narcotics officer Rodney Gonzalez died Tuesday night of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his home in Lexington County.

Lexington authorities -- and later, SLED agents -- were called to the home after a neighbor reported hearing a gunshot shortly before 6pm.

Gonzalez had been with the Richland County Sheriff's Department for a total of about nine years. He had two children, who were not in the home at the time of the incident.

He was the department's first Hispanic narcotics agent and was a close friend of Sheriff Leon Lott. At a news conference, Lott called Gonzalez "professional and caring." The sheriff says Gonzalez was responsible for many drug arrests, including the largest cocaine bust in Richland County history.

"It's very hard to investigate another law enforcement officer who's lost his life. Sheriff Leon Lott and myself are saddened by this situation," Lexington County Sheriff James Metts told WIS on Tuesday.

A memorial service for Master Deputy Rodney Gonzalez will be held 5:00pm, Saturday, March 17, at Greenlawn Funeral Home at 845 Leesburg Road in Columbia. Visitation with the family will follow the memorial service.

Updated 11:22pm by Bryce Mursch

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