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A North Carolina personal injury attorney was shot and killed Monday while reportedly trying to disarm a client accused of opening fire inside a law firm’s offices during mediation before turning the gun on himself.
Goldsboro Police spokesperson LaToya Henry said officers went to the Riddle & Brantley law firm around 4 pm and found two men dead with apparent gunshot wounds.
The officers learned that one of the fatal shot men was the accused gunman, Henry said. No other injuries were reported.
Police identified the men Tuesday as Francisco Cazarin Sanchez, 46, of Greenville, and attorney Patrick Thomas White, 42, of Raleigh. Sanchez fatally shot White inside the law office, then shot himself, police said.
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An unnamed source within the firm told ABC News that Sanchez and his wife had been in mediation at the law firm for six hours that day and that it was going well. The firm was close to finalizing a settlement that would have the couple pocketing a seven-figure sum related to an automobile accident.
“There was nothing about this situation that led anyone to believe that anything would have happened here,” the source said.
The attorneys left Sanchez and his wife alone in a room at their request to discuss the details privately.
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Minutes later, Sanchez entered the nearby room where the attorneys were gathered and, “with no explanation whatsoever,” then “pulled out a revolver and started firing at people,” the source said.
The founder and managing partner of the firm, Gene Riddle, who with White was handling the case involving Sanchez and his wife, also described the incident to WRAL, saying there had been no warning signs that day.
“The next thing I know, I saw a figure come into the attorneys’ quarters, and I heard a loud shot and the glass breaking. I knew he had shot. I saw the gun,” Riddle said. “Patrick was close to him.
“The next two shots were fired directly at me. I thought, there is no way I didn’t get shot. I tried to dodge the bullet, and I tripped and I fell back into my office.
“Patrick yelled his name to stop and pushed him against the wall, and within seconds there was another gunshot and Patrick fell to the ground,” the founder of the firm said. “Patrick was saving us.”
All within a matter of 30 seconds, Sanchez then allegedly shot himself, and Riddle said he promptly dialed 911.
“Patrick is our savior,” Riddle said. “He is our hero. It is the way he lived his entire life.”
White, a personal injury lawyer, was originally from West Virginia and had been practicing law since 2005, according to the firm’s website. Cody Moss, a founding partner at Piedmont Eastern Litigation, said he just met White this fall at a networking event. White had recently moved to the area with his wife and two children.
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“That goes to show you the type of character he had — a person who would give up his life for a friend or colleague in that type of situation,” Moss told WTVD of White. “Obviously, he was very dedicated to what he did. He talked about his wife and how they relocated here to get her higher education.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.