Man kills himself with police officer's gun - - Columbia, South Carolina

Mental issues may have caused man to kill himself with police officer's gun


A Sumter veteran police officer is on administrative leave while SLED investigates how a man used the officer's gun to take his own life Wednesday night.

"My baby's gone, and I think they could have done something," said Ellen Johnson, who watched in horror as her grandson Al Jasper stabbed himself repeatedly in her home last night.

"He was just stabbing, stabbing, stabbing himself and stabbing all in his head," Johnson added.

Johnson called EMS, never thinking police would get there first.

Johnson believes her 25-year-old grandson saw the police and panicked.

Sumter Police will only identify the officer as a veteran sergeant in charge of uniform patrols. Police say Jasper lunged as that sergeant when he entered the room.

"All of these things are happening very quickly, the aggressor knows what his intentions or her intention is to the officer," said Sumter Police Chief Russell Roark.  "The officer has to be preparing for many different things; a lot of things are going on at the same time." Somehow, the man grabbed the sergeant's gun.                                                                          

"While struggling with the officer, he was able to obtain the officer's weapons where he then turned the weapon on himself and fired one shot, said Roark

Johnson could only watch in horror as she witnessed her grandson taken his own life.

"I kept telling him, no, Al, no, Al, no," said Johnson.

The family wonders if police could have done something more?

"They got all that stuff on them," said Johnson. "They got mace they got everything on them.

This incident will now likely prompt the department to review procedures.

"We'll look at the investigation, we'll look at ourselves, at everything that took place and do an after action review and then step from there as to what we may do to better prepare our officers to deal with this type of situation," said Roark.

Even after the tragedy, family still describes Jasper as a man always willing to lend a hand.

"If anybody needed him to do a favor he would do it," said Johnson.

Now the family is left with the pictures and memories of a man they say left them too soon. 

The family admits Jasper had struggled with mental health issues.  They also believe he was distraught over not getting to spend the Fourth of July with his step children.


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