Whiteville Police managed to prevent a suicide Wednesday at the Walmart parking lot.
Major William Hinz said Officer Michael Strickland was dispatched to assist EMS on a call about a man lying in the parking lot at the shopping center.
The man was inside his vehicle, with the door locked and a handgun was near his right hand, Hinz said.
“When the officer saw the subject moving,” Hinz said, “he immediately backed the EMS up away from the scene and began trying to talk to the man.”
The individual appeared to place the gun against his chest and seemed to be mouthing a prayer, Hinz said. Strickland moved around the vehicle, and continued talking to the man, who ignored the officer until Strickland knocked on the side of the car and got his attention.
“Michael got him to talking and talked him out of the gun,” Hinz said. “Then Sergeant (Joseph) Ward got him to unlock the doors, and Strickland took control of the firearm.
“The victim was distraught,” Hinz said. “He was in a bad place. It’s easy to be that way during the holidays.”
The victim was taken to an area hospital to be checked out.
Hinz praised Strickland and Ward for their quick work.
“Michael is a talker,” Hinz said. “He can draw anybody out if he can have a conversation with them. Our guys did a really good job. It could have ended much worse.”