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Distraught wife describes moments before her husband was shot and killed by Caroline deputy

Posted at 4:35 PM, Feb 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-03 08:30:24-05

CAROLINE COUNTY, Va. -- For the first time in a long time, the Spotsylvania couple were in an argument.

Rachel Thomas says her husband's last words, “Get away from me and leave me alone!”

Those words will now haunt her for the rest of her life.

It was a cold night in Caroline County on Monday, to face the hard reality that her husband of 41 years is dead.

"The state police had to come in because a Caroline deputy had shot him,” said Thomas. “They had to take over the investigation. They didn't get here until 12:30 this morning and I already knew, they had pictures of him laying out in the road."

Richard Fenton Thomas, turned 58 Sunday, but his wife said he spent the day mad at her because she went to play slots with her son.

When she tried talking it out with him Monday, minutes before the shooting, he wasn’t happy.

"He told me to get away and leave him alone,” Thomas said. “I said, ‘Well, you can't get the door open. Let me open it,' and he got it open. I was heading back to my mom’s because she lives next door and he left in my grandson’s car."

Around 5 p.m. a 9-1-1 call came into Caroline dispatch for a car in the middle of Countyline Church Road

Witnesses said an unconscious man was inside the car.

Deputies arrived to an awake but agitated Thomas.

Crime Insider sources said Thomas told deputies he had a .45 caliber gun and was going to use it.

At some point during the interaction, deputies killed Thomas.

It remains unclear what exactly prompted the shooting.

Rachel said her husband didn't own a gun and lived a hard life, battling gout and other issues, which she said put a strain on his physical and mental health.

"He wasn't feeling good,” Thomas said. “All the hurt, I mean nobody deserves to die even if he did say that. You still don't deserve to be shot."

Virginia State Police will conduct an investigation into the shooting.

Their findings will be sent to the Caroline County Commonwealth's Attorney.

Thomas said it’s another family tragedy: her husband is the fifth family member to die in the last five years.

"Very rough,” Thomas said. “I thought it would quit, but it don't seem like it's going to."

The deputy that pulled the trigger is on administrative leave while the investigation continues.