Sheriff: Man in "suicide by cop" case was ex-military with PTSD

Published: Aug. 9, 2016 at 2:12 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 9, 2016 at 9:54 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

RICHLAND COUNTY, SC (WIS) - Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott says a man who engaged in an hours-long standoff with law enforcement agents on Monday night was a former member of the military and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Richland County Coroner Gary Watts said James Jennings Jr., 69, died at 9:45 p.m. from multiple gunshot wounds to the upper body, with one being self-inflicted.

Richland County Sheriff's Lt. Curtis Wilson said deputies were called to the 2100 block of Wash Lever Road in Little Mountain for a domestic situation at about 5 p.m. Monday, with the male suspect barricaded inside the residence. Watts said deputies responded after Jennings pointed a weapon at his wife and threatened to kill her.

Melissa Dille says it was a scary situation as Richland County deputies swarmed the area.

"About 18 police officers in all were here, ended up being here. The dogs, they brought the dogs in and were all dressed out in their heavy-duty artillery vests and you can hear guns being loaded," Dille said.

Wilson said the man had multiple weapons and was medicated as he pointed weapons at deputies several times. After several hours, deputies fired a less-lethal weapon at the suspect, hitting him. He dropped one of the two weapons he was holding, Wilson said, and then shot himself twice. The suspect then picked up the second weapon and pointed it at deputies again. Wilson said officers then shot the man in the upper body.

"Our deputy's bullet did strike him, so it is an officer-involved shooting," Lott said.

Wilson said the suspect was trying for "suicide by cop."

"He was trying to get us to kill him," Lott said. "We talked to him for hours trying to bring a peaceful ending to this. What we're waiting on is to determine which round actually caused his death. Again, suicide -- even if it was our bullet who killed him -- it's suicide by cop."

Jennings was transported to Palmetto Health Richland with injuries from the gunshot wounds. He was later pronounced dead.

Lott says Jennings suffered from PTSD after serving in the military and believes it played a role in his death.

"It is real, these people are suffering and they need help," Lott said. "This individual had been dealing with this for quite some time with health issues and mental issues."

No deputies were injured.

Copyright 2016 WIS. All rights reserved.