A deputy confronting a man who had just stabbed his wife fired two fatal shots after the man ignored several warnings to drop what turned out to be a pellet gun and said "it's time to die," an Ohio sheriff said Friday.
The Lake County sheriff said the deputy told Thomas Hirko, 54, at least three times to drop the gun and fired after he saw the man raise the replica weapon, an airsoft-type gun that shoots nonlethal plastic pellets.
Sheriff Daniel Dunlap said it wasn't clear if Hirko meant his words as a threat to the deputy or if he was talking about himself.
A relative who was inside the home in Perry Township, about 30 miles east of Cleveland, told investigators she heard the deputy shouting at Hirko to drop the weapon, Dunlap said.
Lorrie Osborne-Hirko, 55, had called 911 to say she'd been stabbed repeatedly, Dunlap said. She was being treated at a Cleveland hospital for stab wounds to her chest and back; Dunlap said they're hopeful she'll survive.
The sheriff said he was told that Thomas Hirko had been at church Thursday evening before the stabbing.
"Something tripped in his mind," said Dunlap, who described Hirko as a "troubled individual."
Investigators discovered after the shooting that Hirko had barricaded himself in a home in another city near Cleveland almost 10 years ago and threatened to kill himself.
Hirko also was convicted of domestic violence in 1989 and had three prior drunken driving convictions, the sheriff said.
Dunlop said the shooting is under review, but he thinks deputies followed all guidelines in handling the confrontation. The deputies involved in the shooting have been taken off shift duties, per department policy on cases involving use of deadly force by officers.
This story has been corrected to show the sheriff's office saying the call came from the woman who was stabbed, not her relative.