Veteran killed by officers in shooting after VA suicide hotline called police

Investigators from the Bureau of Criminal Investigation collecting evidence at the scene of the shooting with the assistance of Franklin County Sheriff's Office will be assisting with the investigation (Twitter)

An Ohio Army veteran was fatally shot by law enforcement officers who were sent out after receiving a notice from the VA Suicide Hotline.

45-year Army veteran of Desert Storm Ronald Smith has been identified as the man who was shot by deputies after they arrived to find the veteran standing on his property with a long rifle.

The Pickaway County Sheriff’s Office dispatched deputies to the house Tuesday afternoon after receiving a call from the Veteran’s Administration suicide prevention hotline.

According to ABC6, PCSO Sheriff Dwight Radcliff says the Smith was in a veterans online chat when he made comments that “concerned” the VA, but would not go into further detail.

Two deputies -both veterans of military and law enforcement- were dispatched to the scene and say that when they got to the home, they were confronted by a man with a rifle. While negotiators were allegedly called in, a confrontation ensure, leading one deputy to open fire.

The Sheriff’s Office did not say what would have led to the shooting or how many shots were fired.

Investigators claim Smith’s wife and two children -aged 10 and 14- were inside the home at the time.

Sheriff Radcliff referred to the shooting as “tragic,” saying that they never had problems with Smith before this incident.

“We had not had any previous calls there,” he said. “It is not like we had a history at the residence where we had been there for situations with this individual before.”

Neighbors describe Smith as a kind man who would help whenever asked and was always spending time with his children. One neighbor said he “had too much to live for” and would not have been attempting “suicide by cop.”

Family members are demanding to know why the police used such heavy-handed tactics and did not immediately dispatch a negotiator along with the deputies.

onald Smith seen in a photo from when he was in the Army (courtesy Smith family)
Ronald Smith seen in a photo from when he was in the Army (Courtesy of the Smith family)

“If the public only knew how often law enforcement deals with these situations. They usually come out quite different than they did last night. But we are seeing more and more and I am sure that it is not unique to Pickaway County,” said Radcliff. “We have to as a community work on these issues and come up with solutions.”

Both deputies are on paid administrative leave after the shooting, with state agents working the scene to collect evidence for an investigation.

Smith served in the Army, deploying to liberate Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm. After his time in the Army had come to an end, he enlisted in the Air National Guard for four years.

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  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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