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Attorney Killed By Client While Saving Coworkers From Gunfire Inside North Carolina Law Firm

Goldsboro, NC – A North Carolina attorney heroically sacrificed himself in order to save his coworkers from being killed by a gunman inside their office late Monday afternoon, according to witnesses.

The incident occurred at the Riddle & Brantley law firm on North Spence Avenue shortly before 4:15 p.m. on Dec. 19, KTRK reported.

Earlier that day, at approximately 9:30 a.m., 46-year-old Francisco Sanchez and his wife, Crystal Guerrero, came to the law office to participate in a mediation, according to investigators.

The couple was being represented by 42-year-old Riddle & Brantley Attorney Patrick White, KTRK reported.

One of the firm’s founding attorneys, Gene Riddle, was assisting with the mediation process, according to the news outlet.

A law firm employee who spoke with ABC News on a condition of anonymity due to attorney-client privilege said the couple hired White to help them recover damages from a motor vehicle crash.

Riddle said the negotiations continued throughout the day until the parties reached a settlement that everyone appeared to be content with just after 4 p.m., according to KTRK.

The anonymous law firm employee said Sanchez seemed to be “very satisfied” with the seven-figure sum being discussed, ABC News reported.

“There was nothing about this situation that led anyone to believe that anything would have happened here,” the source noted.

Riddle said Guerrero then asked him, White, and the mediator to step out of the meeting so she could speak with Sanchez alone for a few moments, KTRK reported.

Riddle said he was standing near his office when Sanchez emerged from the private conversation with Guerrero a short while later.

He said he saw Sanchez coming towards him just before the sound of gunfire erupted, KTRK reported.

Riddle said he initially thought he had been shot and that he fell backwards into his office.

“I thought, ‘There is no way I didn’t get shot,’” he told WRAL. “I tried to dodge the bullet, and I tripped and I fell back into my office. Then, I got up and I saw that the shooter had drawn his attention to Patrick.”

That’s when White, who was also standing nearby, yelled out to the gunman and “dove on him,” another witness told ABC News.

White was shot twice during the incident and died at the scene, according to police.

Sanchez fatally shot himself in the head inside the law firm moments later, Riddle told KTRK.

“I’m telling you this (account of what happened), so you understand the heroic action of Mr. White,” Riddle told the news outlet on Tuesday. “Patrick yelled (Sanchez’s name) and asked him to stop.”

“Patrick was saving us,” he said, as his eyes welled up with tears.

Riddle said he stayed by White’s side and called 911 as his friend slipped away, KTRK reported.

“All I could say is, ‘God help him. Take care of Patrick.’ I knew he was gone,” Riddle told the news outlet. “Patrick, he sacrificed himself. Our savior.”

The anonymous source at the law firm told ABC News that Sanchez had given “no explanation whatsoever” before he “pulled out a revolver and started firing at people.”

Riddle said the entire incident transpired in less than 30 seconds, WRAL reported.

The shooting was captured by a hallway security camera and that footage has been turned over to investigators, according to ABC News.

White leaves behind his wife and two children.

“Patrick was a skilled lawyer and a devoted, loving husband and father,” the law firm said in a statement, according to ABC News. “His strong work ethic and dedication to excellence were coupled with genuine warmth and kindness. Patrick’s commitment to the service of others and engaging personality endeared him to all.”

“In his passing, Patrick displayed selfless courage in the face of unprovoked senseless violence. His heroic, decisive intervention averted further tragedy,” the statement continued. “The firm sincerely appreciates the overwhelming output of love and support we have received from friends and the community. Please keep Patrick’s family in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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