(GOLDSBORO, N.C.) — A North Carolina lawyer died after sacrificing himself trying to disarm a client who pulled out a revolver in the middle of a mediation session and began firing wildly, before turning the gun on himself, according to someone within the firm with knowledge of what happened.
The victim, who police identified Tuesday as Riddle & Brantley attorney Patrick White, was representing Francisco Sanchez and his wife, who had hired the firm to help them recover damages from a car accident, said the person, who spoke anonymously to ABC News so as not to violate attorney-client privilege.
The mediation, held Monday in an office at the firm’s Goldsboro location, had proceeded for roughly six hours and was going well, said the person, who was not in the meeting but understood that Sanchez “seemed very satisfied with the numbers” being discussed.
“There was nothing about this situation that led anyone to believe that anything would have happened here,” the person said, adding that the firm was close to finalizing a settlement that would have led Sanchez to pocket a seven-figure sum.
At one point, though, Sanchez stepped away with his wife, the person said. When he returned, “with no explanation whatsoever [he] pulled out a revolver and started firing at people,” the person within the firm said.
According to the person, Sanchez fired twice into the office wall before White “dove on him and took two bullets trying to save other people.”
Sanchez then shot himself, the person said, dying at the scene.
Sanchez was identified as a suspect in an incident report provided to ABC News by the Goldsboro Police Department. The report offered no details about what transpired.
In a statement, police said they responded Monday to a report of a shooting at the law firm.
“When officers arrived, they located two males in the business deceased from apparent gunshot wounds,” police said. “Officers secured the business and did not locate any additional victims. Deputies with the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office and troopers from the North Carolina State Highway Patrol also assisted at the scene. Officers were informed that one of the deceased subjects was the shooter.”
The person within Riddle & Brantley said the firm, which was the third to represent Sanchez in his pursuit of damages, “had some indications that the client had a temper” but did not believe he could do what he allegedly did during Monday’s meeting.
A clerk at the Pitt County Courthouse told ABC News that Sanchez had been represented until June by a law firm in Greenville.
In a statement, representatives from that firm, Ricci Law Firm, declined to comment about their experience with Sanchez.
“We are constrained by our ethical obligations on what we are allowed to share beyond what is already publicly available,” they said.
“We are saddened at the death of our colleague, Patrick White,” they added. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and the entire Riddle and Brantley Firm.”
Surveillance footage from a hallway captured the attack and has been provided to police, said the person at the firm.
White was married with two children.
The firm’s founder, Gene Riddle, said the incident “has been devastating. No warning, no hostility until the gun appeared out of nowhere.”
In a statement on its website, the firm announced the “sudden passing of Mr. Patrick White, attorney at law.”
“Patrick was a skilled lawyer and a devoted, loving husband and father. 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,” the firm said. “In his passing, Patrick displayed selfless courage in the face of unprovoked senseless violence. His heroic, decisive intervention averted further tragedy.”
“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,” it added.
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