CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- State Police are conducting an investigation into the July 18 suicide of Trooper Marlo Gonzales, who shot himself with his service weapon.
"Typically when we investigate a suicide we try to establish that it was indeed a suicide and what the mode of death was, how the person took their life," said Lt. Col. Steve Tucker, deputy superintendent. "I think that because of the circumstances ... we are going a little further with this than is probably typical."
The investigating officer is Sgt. Richard Lively, from the South Charleston detachment, Tucker said. Gonzales was temporarily assigned to the South Charleston detachment when he killed himself.
Lively will try to determine what factors contributed to Gonzales' suicide, Tucker said.
"I think [the investigation] is very near its conclusion," Tucker said. "I have not seen a report yet, but obviously we have been monitoring progress of the investigation."
The investigation is being handled like any other suicide investigation, he said: "It's not an internal investigation."
Police will meet with the Gonzales family to discuss the findings when it's complete, he said.
A study on police suicides by the state Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety will look at police practices related to mental health and employee assistance programs, Tucker said.
Gov. Joe Manchin requested the study after Gonzales' suicide.
The study has tentatively targeted state police agencies in Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky and Pennsylvania, said Joe Thornton, spokesman for the state Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety.
"We have to make sure we are looking at police forces that are comparable to our State Police," he said.
The study will look at police suicides and how West Virginia compares in the number of suicides and the types of programs available to State Police, Thornton said.
Gonzales shot himself with his service weapon inside his police cruiser while outside his father-in-law's house, police said. He was working a 4 p.m. to midnight shift when the suicide occurred, State Police Superintendent David Lemmon said on July 19.
To contact staff writer Gary Harki, use e-mail or call 348-5163.