Family say suspect who stabbed Edgecombe County was a good person exhausted by mental illness ::

– The man who was shot and killed Thursday after stabbing an Edgecombe County MP suffered from mental health issues, Sheriff Cleveland Atkinson said.

The family of the slain man identified him as Jermaine Harris, a 32-year-old man who had struggled with schizophrenia and anxiety since he was 19.

The family say he was a kind person who had never hurt anyone in the past, but after years of unsuccessfully trying to help him with his mental illness, it became too much for him to bear.

“It’s not like we’re mad at anyone, it’s more like we’re trying to deal with what happened. And things that could have been done to prevent that,” Harris’s cousin Renota Pettaway said. “I hate that it had to happen. There is no justification for what happened, but due to his mental capacity, he couldn’t prevent what was happening. He wasn’t himself. “

Helen Mayo, Harris’ aunt, said she tried to get help from her nephew “over and over again”.

“I’m just trying to get him away for a while so he can get treatment. He would be here today. Yeah, I’m angry,” Mayo said.

Calling his injured deputy a hero today, Atkinson also said the incident could have been avoided. He calls on the state to invest in new resources for those in need of high-level mental health care.

“Please pray for the family of the deceased,” Atkinson said. “Law enforcement and families, we need help. We need long term facilities.”

According to Atkinson, MPs responded to a house in the 4300 block of McNair Road around 2 p.m. after a woman called to report that she was being chased by a man with a knife. Atkinson said the 32-year-old suspect “rushed in with the knife” as soon as the appellant opened the door for MPs.

“And I’m telling you guys, watching this on video, my deputy was stabbed in three seconds,” Atkinson said. “My assistants did not have time to react.

Atkinson said three MPs responded to the scene. After a deputy was stabbed twice, the suspect “ran to the second deputy” with a “large tactical-style pocket knife,” the sheriff said. At that time, the suspect was shot dead by deputies.

“He protected the appellant despite the stab wounds. He remained calm, always providing professional instructions to the other two deputies at the scene. Yes, he’s a hero. Not me. Him,” said the sheriff.

The injured assistant was treated and released from Vidant Medical Center in Greenville and is now recovering at home.

The sheriff became emotional at the Friday morning press conference, saying: “It is always difficult when a life is taken” and “because of it all our hearts are hurt.”

Atkinson asked for prayers not only for his office, but for the community and the suspect’s family. He said the suspect suffered from mental health issues and explained that his assistants had responded to this house several times before. He also spoke about the importance of body cameras and mental health awareness.

“We need help,” he said, saying he is dealing with mental health appeals more than ever. “[Mental illness] is in my family, it is in yours. I ask our citizens to support my office and my community during this difficult time. “

On Thursday after 2:10 p.m., Sky 5 video showed authorities surrounding the one-story house, which was surrounded by crime scene tape. McNair Road was closed in the evening.

“I feel bad for them all,” said Gay Lucas, a neighbor. “Just scared for the deputy and his family and the suspect’s family.”

The State Bureau of Investigation has been called in to investigate the incident, and the three deputies are on administrative leave, which is standard protocol for an officer or deputy shooting.

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Larry Struck

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