Fayetteville, N.C. — A Fayetteville police officer left a rifle accessible to a robbery suspect who was killed last week after an eight-hour standoff with police, Police Chief Anthony Kelly said Wednesday.

The officer, whose name hasn’t been released, has been placed on administrative leave, pending an investigation, Kelly said.

Authorities were initially called to an apartment in the 100 block of Sycamore Court last Thursday morning after Patrick Earl Gatson, 32, barricaded himself inside an apartment and refused to come out. Authorities said Gatson had active warrants for common law robbery and felony possession of stolen goods. He told police that he did not want to return to jail.

Kelly said that a member of the emergency response team assisting in a search of the apartment building found a rifle in a unit adjacent to the one Gatson was in. Kelly said the rifle belonged to the tenants who lived in the apartment on Sycamore Court.

The officer determined the rifle was safe because it didn’t have bullets inside, placed it on a bed and continued searching for Gatson.

Gatson, who crawled through the attic to access all four units in the building, was able to twice gain access to the apartment where the rifle was located and used it to pursue an officer outside the room, Kelly said.

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