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Farmington, Ark. — The Arkansas State Police are investigating the use of deadly force by three Washington County sheriff’s deputies late Friday afternoon, June 24. Special agents of the State Police Criminal Investigation Division Saturday were assigned to the case at the request of Washington County Sheriff Tim Helder.
Farmington police and fire department personnel responded to 133 Neal St. late Friday afternoon where Randy Blecher, 50, had been seen setting fire to the house and an out-building.
Local police reported that on their arrival at the residence, Blecher was seen on the front porch holding a handgun and shotgun.
As officers from other area law enforcement agencies arrived, attempts were made to negotiate with Blecher, asking him to drop the guns.
Blecher moved from the porch and began to walk in the street where he pointed a gun in the direction of three Washington County Sheriff’s deputies.
Deputies said Blecher shot at officers and missed.
From there on, deputies said they tried to gain control of Blecher without using lethal force.
The Sheriff’s Department said that Blecher then aimed one of his weapons at police, and that’s when deputies shot him.
Blecher was transported to Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville where he was pronounced dead.
The investigation being prepared by the State Police special agents will be submitted to the Washington County prosecuting attorney for review to determine whether the use of deadly force by law enforcement officers was consistent with Arkansas laws.
The Washington County Sheriff’s Office also will do an internal investigation to determine if departmental policies and procedures were followed.
The three deputies — Lt. Joshua McConnell, Cpl. Brian Comstock and William Sweeney III — are all on paid administrative leave.
The Washington County Fire Marshal’s Office is also conducting a separate investigation involving the circumstances surrounding the fire.