Local News

September 14, 2012

Whitfield County man shoots himself in downtown Chatsworth (Updated 5:17 p.m.)

CHATSWORTH — A Whitfield County man was airlifted to Erlanger Medical Center in Chattanooga after shooting himself in the head near the Murray County Courthouse at about 1:30 p.m. Friday, officials said.

Chatsworth Police Chief Terry Martin said the man was waiting on his wife to finish teaching a class across from the courthouse. He said the man apparently went to a couple of locations around the area, including the Post Office, while he was waiting.

At some point, Martin said, the man took a 9-mm handgun from the vehicle he and his wife had driven there, removed all the rounds except one, and shot himself in the head with that round. His condition wasn’t immediately available. Martin said the man left a suicide note, but Martin did not know what it said because the officers working the case were still reviewing it. He said officials were told the man had been unemployed for a couple of years.

“At this point, we don’t have any idea why he did it,” Martin said. “... He wasn’t acting suspicious. I talked to some witnesses. One guy said he went by and he was just sitting there on the sidewalk, and then all of a sudden he heard a pop.”

Several employees in nearby businesses said they saw or heard emergency responders coming to the scene but didn’t see the shot.

Matt Sanford, a county employee who works in the Murray County Annex just across from where the incident occurred, said he heard the gun go off but didn’t know what it was initially.

“I heard the shot, but I thought it was a vehicle backfiring at first because we hear that a lot,” he said.

Sanford said he then received a call from someone asking about a shooting, and he looked outside his office window to see a small crowd of emergency responders and other people on the courthouse lawn, which is visible straight across from his office window.

“It’s one of those things you don’t expect to hear,” he said.

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