Officer Shoots Dead Armed 88-Year-Old Ronald Ehrich During Welfare Check

Police in Florida have said an officer shot and killed an 88-year-old man who charged at her with a handgun during a routine welfare check.

The deputy arrived at the property in Riverview, Hillsborough County, at around 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning to check on the wellbeing of Ronald Ehrich.

The elderly man's neighbor had called the police, worried that he had not been seen for a couple of days and concerned that the door to his house and his garage had been left open.

Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a statement that the deputy, Anastasia Castillo had expected to be dealing with a medical emergency when she entered the house and was "there to save a life."

She entered through the open door and tried to alert Ehrich as she searched the two floors of the property. While on the second floor, she encountered Ehrich who "displayed a firearm and threatened to shoot," Chronister said.

As Castillo tried to talk Ehrich into surrendering the weapon and said she was there to help him, she retreated down the hall and went into a bedroom "as Ehrich cornered her."

Chronister said bodycam footage showed Ehrich shouting threats at the deputy that he was going to fire, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

"In fear of her life, the deputy fired her [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office] issued firearm," Chronister said.

Ehrich, who never fired his weapon, was pronounced dead in hospital.

"There is no other way to describe this other than tragic," Chronister said. "This deputy went in to save a life."

Castillo had been with the force since 2015 and did not have any history of use of deadly force.

"She made every attempt to deescalate the situation," the sheriff said, "before being forced to fire her weapon for her own safety."

Ehrich lived on his own and had no criminal history. An investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will consider whether he had mental health issues and seek to find out what made him charge at the officer.

"We will try to investigate what led to this," Chronister said, according to the Times, which reported that the incident took place in a quiet community surrounded by golf courses.

"This is tragic for the deputy, for the Sheriff's Office and for the man's family," the sheriff added.

When contacted by Newsweek, Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said the Florida Department of Law Enforcement would be investigating and no further information was available.