LEE CO., GA (WALB) - A standoff with Lee County officials ended when a man shot himself in a burning car Wednesday morning.
Lee County Sheriff Reggie Rachals said Michael Donnell Richardson, Jr. was seen driving a car on fire around 8 Wednesday morning off Hwy 19.
Witnesses called 911 reporting a burning car near SB&T Bank, next to the Lee Market parking lot.
Deputies said Richardson refused to get out and took off driving until he was boxed in.
He jumped a curb in the parking lot, and deputies quickly surrounded his car.
Witness Jessica Anderson captured video on her cell phone.
"It was crazy," she said. "I did video it. I wasn't sure what was going on. It was something I've never seen before."
Armed with a handgun, he places the weapon to his head, as Lee County deputies pleaded with the man to drop the gun.
"You're not going to prison, sir..." deputies told him.
About 10 minutes after it all began, it ended with a single gunshot, when Richardson took his own life. Deputies surrounded the car and removed the gun.
Rachals said the man had set fire to his own vehicle.
"It appeared he set the car on fire inside the vehicle and he was steadily trying to put some of the material that was on fire onto himself," he said.
Rachals said deputies did everything they could to prevent the man from making a deadly decision.
"They try to negotiate way before they ever have to do anything deadly. It's sad it turned out the way it did either way. He took his own shot," said Rachels.
To those who witnessed the scene play out in a busy shopping center - the same thoughts are shared about the outcome.
Now investigators trying to find the answer to what led this man to death at his own hands.
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