Pickaway Co. Army veteran dies in deputy-involved shooting

PICKAWAY COUNTY, OH (WCMH) — An Army veteran has died after a deputy-involved shooting in Pickaway County.

Two deputies with the Pickaway County Sheriff’s Office responded to the house on Five Points Pike in Mount Sterling early Tuesday morning. Sheriff Robert B. Radcliff said they were sent out after a veterans’ crisis line called Madison County dispatch and said the man was having problems.

“We knew that there was potential there and that’s why two officers responded,” Radcliff said.

When the deputies arrived, Radcliff said they were met by a man with a long rifle. They called for extra resources from Madison County. About ten minutes later, shots were fired. Radcliff said he couldn’t speculate on whether deputies fired the fatal shot or the man fired.

Family members of the victim, Ron Smith, did not want to speak on camera, but his brother and sister shared photos with NBC4.

They said Smith, 45, had spent four years in the Army, deployed in Saudi Arabia. The Desert Storm veteran also spent a year in the Air Force Reserves.vet2

His sister, Dianna Gossett, said Smith was a great father to his 13-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son. She also described him as a hard worker but said he struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder and physical pain. She said he had recently been hospitalized for back pain and headaches.

Radcliff said the two deputies involved are military veterans themselves.

“When I found out who was on the scene, when they called me at home at 1:30, 1:45 [a.m.], I was comfortable with the fact of who it was that was there, and the fact that they were veterans,” Radcliff said.

Radcliff said it had been more than two years since his deputies were involved in a shooting like this one. But he said situations like this, especially those involving veterans, are common.

“99 percent of the time that people don’t see or don’t hear about, we deal with these situations,” Radcliff said. “We defuse the situations. We get people to give up weapons.”

The issues with which veterans struggle are ones the community needs to work together to fix, he said.

“Law enforcement, unfortunately, at the end of the day, we’re the ones that have to face these situations,” Radcliff said. “We’re the ones that the buck stops with us.”

He said he felt for the family.

“It’s tragic,” Radcliff said. “And when you find out that you’ve lost a family member, you know, it’s easy to react. And we deal with that, we understand that.”

vet1The two deputies have been placed on paid administrative leave, which the sheriff said is typical in a deputy-involved shooting regardless of what the investigation finds. The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office is handling the investigation into the shooting. The Bureau of Criminal Investigation was also on the scene Tuesday.

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