SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – A local sheriff is calling a bystander with a carry permit a hero after a domestic-related shooting at a dentist office in Tennessee.
The shooting was reported Wednesday morning at David Guy Dentistry on Circle Drive, near Colonial Heights Road.
Sullivan County Sheriff Jeff Cassidy said a gunman walked into the office and shot his wife, who later died.
A bystander, with a gun, shot the suspect and held him down until authorities arrived.
“I’m not sure where he was at at the time, but I’m calling him a hero,” Cassidy told reporters. “He took care of the situation until police officers arrived. And the suspect has gunshot wounds, and he is in the hospital right now.
“He was a concealed carry permit holder and I’m going to call him a hero today.”
During a prayer service for the woman who was killed, a pastor acknowledged the bystander who had a gun.
Colonial Heights Baptist Church Senior Pastor Burton told a crowd Wednesday to thank God that the shooting was stopped by a citizen with a permit to carry a weapon.
He reminded them about what the sheriff kept saying, that it could have been much worse.
Burton also described the couple as well known in the community and shared that he had a difficult time accepting the news of his friend’s death.
“They were people that were well thought of and when your friend in the community, you’ve got good friends and so when you lose a friend like that, someone that you think a lot of, it’s tender,” Burton said.
Authorities have identified the gunman accused of fatally shooting his wife as 63-year-old Harry Weaver. WJHL also confirmed Weaver is a local school bus driver.
Cassidy said the suspect entered the dentist office and shot his wife, 52-year-old Kelly Weaver. Kelly Weaver was an employee at the dental practice.
According to witnesses, Kelly Weaver was going through a divorce with the suspect.
Police said Kelly Weaver suffered several apparent gunshot wounds.
Deputies say Larry Seagroves, a dental patient in the office with a carry permit, shot the gunman and held him until law enforcement arrived.
Officers reported that when they arrived, Seagroves was standing over the suspect pointing a semi-automatic handgun at him. The sheriff’s office says Seagroves goal was to hold the suspect down until officers arrived.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, it’s rare for a citizen to intervene in an active shooter situation with a gun.
A 2013 report by the FBI examines active shooter cases between the years 2000 and 2013 and says that out of the 160 cases, at least 65 (about 41 percent) ended with citizen engagement or the shooter committing suicide before law enforcement arrived.
Five ended with a citizen with a gun intervening and either wounding or killing the shooter. That equals about 3 percent of active shooter cases in the 13-year time bracket.
Of those five instances, three shooters were killed, one was wounded and one committed suicide, according to the report. The report also says that the individuals in these cases include armed security guards and a citizen with a valid firearms permit.
The same report states that 21 of the 160 recorded incidents ended when unarmed citizens “safely and successfully restrained the shooter,” accounting for about 13 percent of incidents. Two of those cases involved off-duty law enforcement officers who were present and assisted.
In most cases, active shooter situations end on the shooter’s initiative – either when the shooter stopped shooting, committed suicide or fled the scene. In 37 incidents, the shooter died by suicide before police arrived, and the shooter fled the scene in at least 25 cases.
A spokesperson with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said that the TBI doesn’t keep records of state-specific data pertaining to citizens intervening in active shooting situations because they aren’t involved with every active shooter case in the state.
The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland security reports that Tennessee issued 189,674 handgun carry permits last year. Of those, 20 percent were original permits, 9 percent were duplicates and 14 percent were lifetime permits.
Tennessee suspended 1,906 permits, revoked 931 permits and denied 2,616 permits last year. Sullivan County has the most current valid handgun carry permits on record in northeast Tennessee.