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Police Shoot, Kill 74-year-old Vet Week After Heart Surgery

The State Bureau of Investigation is looking into the fatal shooting of an elderly Gastonia man Saturday night, by a police officer sent to check on his welfare at his home.
Gastonia Police Chief Robert Helton said Anson County first asked for a welfare check for James Howard Allen, 74, around 10 p.m. Saturday at the request of Allen's relatives.
"Due to some medical issues he had had -- some surgery he had recently -- they were concerned for his well-being," said Helton.
Helton said an officer went to Allen's home on Mary Avenue around 10:20 p.m., and got no answer at the door. He cleared the call.
Just after 11 p.m., said Helton, the Anson County Sheriff's Office asked that police to check local hospitals. Helton said police called area hospitals but didn't find Allen, so an officer returned to his home.
Allen's car was in the driveway and neighbors reported seeing Allen the previous day, said Helton.
Police called Gastonia Fire and EMS at 11:30 to request help, according to Helton. Officers contacted a supervisor and the decision was made to enter Allen's home through the back door.
Helton said officer Josh Lefevers announced his presence, and the officer and firefighters were confronted by Allen, who had a gun.
"He was challenged to lay the gun down," said Helton. "The gun was pointed in the direction of the officers, and a shot was fired that fatally wounded him."
Friends and neighbors shook their heads in disbelief. Ted Campbell said he ran out into the street after hearing gunfire.
"There were two shots – Bam! Bam!" he said. He noticed there were already police and firefighters at the house.
"They done kicked the door in," said Campbell, upset at the shooting. "Mr. Howard was scared. He come in with a gun -- you know he didn't shoot, but they see the gun and that gives them the right to shoot!"
Longtime friend Otis Thompson said he would check on Allen every week and bring him his mail. He said Allen was a war veteran who was in poor health, and probably feared for his life.

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