Man shot dead by police had been suicidal for several days - CBS46 News

Man shot dead by police had been suicidal for several days

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Remington 721 hunting rifle Remington 721 hunting rifle
John Clark John Clark

The family of a man shot dead by Gwinnett County Police told CBS Atlanta News Friday he had been suicidal for several days following a fight with his girlfriend.

Two Gwinnett County police officers opened fire on 32-year-old James Clark when he began to walk toward them holding a rifle. It happened on Trophy Trail in Lawrenceville on Thursday evening.

"I heard what sounded like firecrackers going off, because it was just one right after another," said neighbor Mike Lee.

Police said a family friend called 911 when Clark appeared suicidal.

The caller told the dispatcher that Clark had cut his arm with a knife and was armed with a gun. He said that Clark had fired two shots prior to his arrival and that Clark ordered him to leave, telling him it was not safe for him to be there.

When officers arrived, Clark came out of the house carrying a Remington 721 hunting rifle, according to police.

"Mr. Clark came out of the house and was holding what appeared to be a deer rifle with a scope and our officers engaged with him verbally," said Gwinnett County Police spokesman Jake Smith.

Thomas Clark believes his son was holding a BB gun.

Police said they attempted to negotiate with Clark for the next 14 minutes, ordering him to drop his weapon several times.

Clark stayed near the entrance to the home's carport, and put the rifle down at one point, according to police. He picked it back up a short time later.

Clark then climbed on to the roof of a car just outside the carport while yelling at officers. He began walking toward the officers while pointing his rifle at them, police said.

Investigators said when the negotiations failed, police opened fire killing Clark.

"Something occurred where the officers felt threatened and we had two officers that fired and Mr. Clark was shot and killed," explained Smith.

When members of Clark's family began arriving, they were very upset.

Officers said Clark's family members became belligerent and tried to cross the crime scene tape.

Police said the family's behavior was given special consideration due to the circumstances.

Clark's mother crossed the police tape and attempted to elude officers.

"No, you don't understand, you don't understand!" exclaimed Clark's mother as police corralled her out of a nearby wood line when she tried to reach her son's body.

She was escorted back out of the crime scene and was not arrested.

Clark's brother and father arrived and, after continued shouted profanity and threats against officers, 34-year-old Robert Clark and 65-year-old Thomas Clark were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.

They bonded out of the Gwinnett County Detention Center early Friday morning.

The family said Clark leaves behind a 3-year-old daughter.

The two officers are on administrative leave, which is standard procedure.

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