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Nash County sheriff: Assault suspect wouldn’t drop gun

SBI, sheriff’s office probe fatal shooting

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NASHVILLE — Sheriff Keith Stone disclosed additional details Monday in deputies’ fatal shooting of a gun-wielding man early Saturday in rural Nash County.

In an afternoon press conference, Stone identified the man killed in the shooting as 28-year-old Jonathan Ramirez, who lived on the 1200 block of Maudis Road northeast of Bailey.

Nash County deputies received a call around 5:30 a.m. Saturday that Ramirez possibly was involved in the reported sexual assault of an unidentified woman. The caller also accused Ramirez of having an AK-47 and cocaine in his sport utility vehicle.

Upon arrival, officers noticed what Stone described as “an AR-15-type looking weapon” in the back of a white Chevrolet Tahoe. Ramirez later wielded the gun and did not comply with officers’ requests to drop the weapon, Stone said, prompting officers to fatally wound him.

Stone later identified the weapon as a 12-gauge shotgun with an extended magazine “capable of holding 3-inch magnum shells.” Stone said he believed Ramirez did not have any prior convictions.

Gunfire was exchanged at the scene, and Stone said bullets believed to be from deputies’ weapons struck a home.

Stone said the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation is conducting an external investigation surrounding the incident while the sheriff’s department conducts an internal investigation.

Three unidentified deputies are currently on administrative leave pending the investigation’s outcome, which is standard procedure. Stone described the deputies as veteran members of the force who have served for at least 10 years.

The SBI had not released additional details in its probe Monday. The internal investigation will likely take a couple of weeks, while the state’s review may take a month or longer and will include toxicology and autopsy reports.

“It’s a complex investigation. The reason we want to take the time with this is to ensure everything’s going right and to make sure that everything’s covered so there’s not any allegations or anybody trying to substantiate something that is not factual,” Stone said.

Deputies were wearing body cameras at the time of the shooting. Stone said he viewed the cameras’ footage but did not elaborate on its contents, and the SBI now has possession of the video. He said the district attorney’s office would release more information about the footage at a later date.

Stone said it had been several years since the last officer-involved death had occurred in Nash County.

“This is the first deputy-involved shooting that I’ve had in my career here with the Nash County Sheriff’s Office, and I think it’s been many years before there was one. We’ve got 100,000 people in this county, and I take pride in saying that’s a pretty good track record,” Stone said.

The sheriff emphasized the importance of following officers’ directions, especially when weapons are involved, to reduce law enforcement’s use of deadly force.

“You need to comply with their demands,” Stone said. “This is on everyone’s minds. It’s a different time in America right now. Everybody’s on edge. Please, when you stop, put your hands 10 and 2 on the steering wheel, turn the dome light on and comply. It’s very simple. You have to put yourself in the position of these law enforcement officers.

“It’s easy to talk about de-confliction right now in this lighted room, but at 1:30 in the morning when somebody’s pointing an assault rifle or shotgun at you, it’s a different story.”

Stone said his thoughts are with the Ramirez family, whose members are mourning a loss.

“It’s a bad situation for the family. It’s a terrible situation for Mr. Ramirez. All around a bad situation,” Stone said. “My heart goes out to them. A great family. I spoke to the dad, and it’s just an unreal. Family and friends — they’re a very tight-knit community.”