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March 07, 2006
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Deaf man fatally shot by Arkansas deputy

The Associated Press

CLINTON, Ark.- A deaf man was fatally shot after aiming a shotgun at authorities despite being given hand signals to lower his weapon, the sheriff said.

Sammy E. Thompson, 38, died Sunday at a Little Rock hospital. He was shot earlier that day when deputies responded to a domestic disturbance call at Thompson's home, Van Buren County Sheriff Scott Bradley said Monday.

The sheriff said Thompson may have been suicidal, based on his behavior during the standoff and information provided by his wife, Brenda Thompson, who also is deaf. She said he had been drinking.

"He had mentioned to her ... that if he shot himself, he was afraid he wouldn't go to heaven," Bradley said. "He thought if he got someone else to do it, he'd still go to heaven."

Bradley said Thompson put his weapon on the driveway and took four or five steps away from it. But he soon ran back to his gun, picked it up, placed it on his shoulder, and aimed at the deputy, who fired, authorities said.

The deputy who made the fatal shot was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.

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