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Cross Lanes man killed in shooting wanted to die, police say

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Cross Lanes man was on the phone with his sister when he was fatally shot by two South Charleston Police officers Tuesday morning, law enforcement officials said.

Tommy Gene Ransbottom II, 40, allegedly told his sister he would harm police if they did not shoot and kill him first.

Police shot and killed Ransbottom after he refused to surrender and then pointed a gun at two South Charleston officers, said Kanawha County Sheriff Mike Rutherford, whose department is investigating the shooting.

Seven South Charleston police officers cornered Ransbottom's car in the parking lot of Rock Lake Presbyterian Church on Village Drive and Rock Lake Drive at about 1 a.m., Rutherford said at a Tuesday afternoon news conference with Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Plants.

Ransbottom got out of his car and screamed at police before getting back into the car and retrieving a .380 caliber semiautomatic pistol, Rutherford said.

His sister, who lives in Missouri, pleaded with Ransbottom on the phone to drop his gun, but he told her he intended to die, Rutherford said.

Ransbottom raised the handgun and pointed it at two officers, the sheriff said.

Those officers did not initially see the gun and thought Ransbottom was holding his cell phone, Rutherford said.

Two different officers waiting to the side saw the gun and fired four shots, striking Ransbottom twice, Rutherford said. He was later pronounced dead at Thomas Memorial Hospital.

Rutherford said the South Charleston officers showed restraint and did not shoot until Ransbottom pointed the gun in a way that indicated he was about to fire. Ransbottom's gun had one bullet in the chamber, he said.

South Charleston Police Chief Brad Rinehart said the shooting came after a night of emergency 911 calls about a man behaving erratically and making phone calls to family members threatening suicide following a domestic disturbance call near his home on West Washington Street in Cross Lanes.

Police responded and followed Ransbottom onto Village Drive before he made a U-turn onto the church parking lot, Rutherford said.

Rutherford said he does not know Ransbottom's mental state or what provoked him to threaten police. He was killed a week before his 41st birthday.

Ransbottom's body was sent to the State Medical Examiner's office for a toxicology report.

Plants said the incident appeared to be a "justified shooting" based on a preliminary investigation. The prosecutor said he would release a complete report once all the evidence had been gathered.

Rinehart said the officers involved in the shooting have temporarily been placed on paid leave. They have not been publicly identified.

Rutherford said the responding officers did everything within their power to prevent Ransbottom's death.

"You do your best to talk to them but we are at a disadvantage when people are so concentrated on what they want to do or what they are going to do. His family couldn't even talk him out of it," he said.

Ransbottom's son, Nicholas, 16, said he understood that the police were acting in self-defense when they opened fire. He did not want to talk further about the incident.

Rutherford said the sheriff's department is extending their condolences to Ransbottom's family.

"They had nothing to do with this," he said.

Reach Rusty Marks at rustymarks@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.

Reach Travis Crum at travis.crum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.


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