Standoff ends with suicide of Teresa Dawn Hullette

Nov. 12, 2013 @ 08:41 AM

An argument between a couple escalated into a standoff with Lenoir police that ended with a woman's suicide Saturday night, and the woman's boyfriend thinks officers overreacted.

Teresa Dawn Hullette, 47, had been staying at the home of Robert Hamby at 1208 Delwood Drive SW. The two got into a fight, and Hamby called the police shortly after 7:30 p.m., according to a police document. When officers arrived they talked to Hamby, who said Hullette was in the bedroom. When officers entered the bedroom, they saw her crouched behind a bed, and when she stood up she was holding a pistol, so the officers quickly left the room, the document said. Officers called in the department's Special Response Team.

Hullette told officers through the door that if they did not leave, the situation was going to end badly, the police document said. Officers then led Hamby out of the house. For several hours, Hullette refused to leave the room and repeatedly talked about about killing herself and about "suicide by cop," a term that refers to provoking officers into firing.

Hamby said two tear gas cannisters were fired into the bedroom window from a tree overlooking his house. Officers then forced their way in, the police document said, and by then Hullette had retreated to a bathroom. The officers tried to talk to Hullette through the door but got no response. After a short time, they heard one gunshot. They found her dead in the bathroom with a gunshot wound to the head.

Officers found a Taurus 9mm handgun with six rounds in it, along with more ammunition and one fired projectile.

Hamby said he thinks his girlfriend was in fear for her life once the tear gas was shot into the house, and the situation could have been handled better.

"I'm mad as hell. They didn't let me talk to her," Hamby said. "They kept me outside and took my cellphone. They didn't have to do that."

Lenoir Police Chief Scott Brown declined to comment.

Hullette had previous legal troubles. She was convicted in April of driving while impaired and previously had been convicted on charged of harrassing or threatening phone calls, forgery and uttering, and receiving stolen property, according to the N.C. Division of Adult Correction.

Hullette was jailed in March on drug and firearm charges, and also one count of abandonment of animals. Several starving horses were found at a residence off Hillwood Drive north of Lenoir. Animal control accused Hullette of neglecting to feed or water the horses.