GASTONIA, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) - The Gaston County District Attorney says the officer who shot a man with a gun outside a Buffalo Wild Wings was justified.
A witness saw the man sitting in his car and went over to him not knowing he had a gun. Later the witness says he learned that the man with the gun had said he was going to shoot up the whole restaurant.
“If the doors would have been open everyone could be dead right now,” Keith Collins said.
Witnesses say 22-year-old James Matthew Roberts Jr. was upset at Buffalo Wild Wings on Cox Road in Gastonia Tuesday night.
Collins had encountered Roberts in the parking lot.
“When he [saw] me he stuck the gun in his mouth and I said don't do that, I started screaming at him,” said Collins.
Collins says he jumped back and turned his head because he thought Roberts was going to kill himself.
When Collins didn't hear a gunshot he ran back in the restaurant and told the staff to call 911. They did and they locked the doors.
Collins says he spoke with Roberts’ sister who was inside the restaurant.
“He told her ‘I’m going out here to get my gun, I’m going to kill you and shoot up the restaurant."
She said her brother had been upset because he lost a friend and that he got mad at his sister and threw his wallet, hitting her with it, then stormed outside threatening to come back and shoot up the place.
“It's scary when you think somebody's got a gun and you can't do [anything] about it, and he's fixing to walk into the restaurant and start shooting, you don't know if he's going to start shooting,”
The Gaston County District Attorney says police repeatedly told Roberts to drop the gun in the parking lot and that Roberts told an officer "I’m going to shoot you."
The DA says officer body camera footage shows Roberts move from behind a car and bring the gun up. That's when the District Attorney says Gastonia police officer Maurice Taylor III shot Roberts, injuring him.
“My son came running in here and said ‘Dad they just shot him.’ My son said he heard the cops say drop the weapon, and then he said he heard maybe four or five shots.”