GARDNERVILLE, Nev. – A man whose wife had recently died was only a few feet away from his own tombstone in a family burial plot when he pointed a loaded gun at a deputy and was fatally shot, authorities said Thursday.
David Pendleton, 77, died Wednesday at the Gardnerville Cemetery after summoning police with an anonymous report of a dead body outside a white truck, police Sgt. Jim Halsey said in a statement.
Pendleton's cellphone was found at the scene. Halsey said a log showed the call to dispatchers was made from that cellphone just minutes before the shooting.
Halsey said Pendleton's wife, who recently died, was buried in the family plot. Nearby was a tombstone engraved with Pendleton's name and date of birth. Investigators have not yet determined when Pendleton's grave marker was installed.
When deputies arrived, Pendleton was standing near the truck holding a shotgun. Halsey said he refused to put down the gun and aimed it at an officer. Sheriff's Deputy Richard Koontz Jr. then fired at Pendleton, who died at the scene.
"We don't know ultimately what his intent was, whether it was to shoot himself or be shot by the deputy," Halsey told The Associated Press. Pendleton's shotgun was "fully loaded and ready to be fired," he said, adding that the incident unfolded quickly and before other officers arrived.
Pendleton had threatened to use weapons against people, including officers, in the past, the sheriff's office said. Halsey said because of his past violent behavior and threats, Pendleton's name was flagged with an "officer safety warning" in the agency's database.
The original caller had refused to identify himself, so Koontz "had no way of knowing the suspect waiting in the cemetery was David Pendleton," Halsey said.