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Deputy Received Non-Life-Threatening Injuries in Eight-Hour Avery County Standoff Thursday

On Thursday, August 3rd, 2023 at approximately 2:59 p.m., Avery County Communications received a call from the Veterans Crisis Hotline and Mountain Home Veterans Hospital indicating an individual had called in threatening to commit suicide and they needed a Welfare Check conducted at the individual’s residence.

The caller identified the individual who needed to be checked on as Richard Edward Cousins, Jr., W/M/DOB: 10/26/1960 of 115 Pat V Eller Lane, Newland, NC 28657. Additional information was obtained during this same time period that Cousins had also called Compassionate Hearts, with similar statements about committing suicide.

Deputies with the Avery County Sheriff’s Office responded to 115 Pat V Eller Lane, Newland, NC 28657 and immediately met resistance from Cousins who fired a shot from the residence. A perimeter was established to secure the area and ensure the surrounding community was a safe distance away from the incident.

Responding Deputies immediately attempted to de-escalate the situation and were unsuccessful. The incident swiftly evolved into a tactical mission with numerous assisting agencies responding to assist. An eight-hour standoff ensued which lasted until the early morning hours of August 4th, 2023.
During the multi-hour standoff one Avery County Sheriff’s Office Deputy (Sergeant I.B. Aldridge) received non-life-threatening injuries from Cousin’s gunfire. Cousins died in the early morning hours of August 4th, 2023 at Mission Hospital from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

All the agencies and personnel involved demonstrated great restraint and patience during an intense standoff where Cousins discharged several weapons while law enforcement were on scene without the necessity to return gunfire. All efforts were exhausted to include intense negotiations prior to and during the final outcome of this tragic event.

Courtesy of Avery County Sheriff’s Office.