UNDERWOOD — A man who greeted authorities with a loaded gun when they came to his house died Saturday night after being shot by a deputy.
Authorities said Richard Fontenot, 35, 390 Lauderdale 57, which also is known as Kelley Road, in the Underwood community, was taken to Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital in Florence after the shooting.
The shooting occurred about 9 p.m., Lauderdale County Sheriff Ronnie Willis said.
Hospital officials said he died later Saturday night.
Willis said because the shooting involved a member of his department, the Alabama Bureau of Investigation was called to conduct the investigation.
“That is just a matter of protocol in cases like this,” the sheriff said.
ABI Sgt. Kent Donaldson said once the investigation is completed, the report will be turned over to the Lauderdale County District Attorney’s Office to be presented to a grand jury.
Reports indicate deputy Gaylon Phillips and a reserve, Andy Corbett, had gone to the residence, which is across from the New Castle Estates subdivision and a block behind Underwood Baptist Church, to check on Fontenot’s welfare.
Deputies were called to the scene because the man reportedly was threatening to harm himself.
Investigators said the request came from a friend of Fontenot’s who lived in Baldwin County.
Officials at the scene said evidence was found that Fontenot had been drinking alcohol, and they believe that could have been a contributing factor in the shooting.
When deputies got to the front door of the residence, they were met by Fontenot, who was armed with a loaded and cocked pistol.
Officials at the scene said the deputies ordered him to put down the weapon, and when he refused and made an aggressive gesture, the deputies fired shots, hitting Fontenot.
Lauderdale County Coroner Andy High said he was notified by officials with ECM Hospital of Fontenot’s death and the body was sent to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences for an autopsy.
Law enforcement officials said the autopsy will determine how many times Fontenot was shot and who shot him.
Investigators said Phillips and Corbett fired their pistols.
Willis said Phillips, who has been with the department about three years, has been placed on administrative leave with pay, and Corbett has been placed on leave as a reserve officer until the investigation is completed.
Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Jr. Witt said all reserve offices must be certified and qualified to carry a gun before they can become a reserve and ride with the deputies.
Witt said a neighbor said Fontenot lived at the residence with a live-in girlfriend who was out of state. He said apparently Fontenot had lived there a couple of years.
“This is unfortunate. It’s a tragedy and everyone hates that this happened,” Witt said. “But the deputies are trained to do their jobs and they were put in a position where they had to react.”
Tom Smith can be reached at 256-740-5757 or tom.smith@TimesDaily.com.