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Man dead in apparent suicide near Neffs

T-L Photo/ROBERT A. DEFRANK The forest along McGregor Hill Road near Neffs was the site of an apparent suicide Thursday. A man reportedly shot a truck then fled into the woods. He later was found dead of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound in the woods.

NEFFS — Law enforcement said a man deputies were searching for died of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound Thursday.

Chief Deputy James Zusack with the Belmont County Sheriff’s Office said officers had been on the lookout for the man since Wednesday, when it was reported he was making “suicidal remarks” on social media. Law enforcement received a call Thursday morning reporting that the man was on McGregor Hill Road off of Ohio 149 in the Neffs area and reportedly had fired a gun at a pickup truck and then fled into the woods.

The sheriff’s Special Operations Team searched the wooded area for more than two-and-a-half hours before finding the man, who was dead of an apparent suicide. The Belmont County Coroner’s Office was called in to investigate.

After the investigators had left, Dustin Lane of Jacobsburg was at a family member’s house along McGregor Hill Road and said he was an old friend of the man who had died. Lane gave the man’s name, but the sheriff’s office would not confirm it or release any further information, saying the family still needed to be notified of his death.

“At 10:28 this morning my sister called me and said, ‘(the man) is shooting at my truck. He’s in the driveway shooting at my truck,'” Lane said. “Then he went up the road and killed himself. … He went up that road, clear to the end … and he shot himself.”

There were some initial rumors that there had been a standoff between the man and law enforcement. Zusack said this was not the case.

Lane said his friend had been struggling with mental health and other issues.

Lane became emotional when he described the situation.

“We’ve been friends for … 25 years … He’s a buddy,” Lane said. “I didn’t want to have to call the cops on one of my best friends, but I didn’t know what … he was down here doing.”

Zusack said more information on the case likely will be released today.

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