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North Carolina Identifies Man Shot Dead by Trooper Amid Flooding

Dennis Hunt, 56, was fatally shot by a trooper as he and two deputies were helping in search and rescue during swift water caused by Hurricane Matthew
Image: Emergency vehicle lights illuminate water flowing over a road as floodwaters rise in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, in Lumberton, North Carolina at dusk
Emergency vehicle lights illuminate water flowing over a road as floodwaters rise in Lumberton, North Carolina at dusk, Oct. 10.JONATHAN DRAKE / Reuters

North Carolina’s highway patrol on Wednesday identified a man who was shot and killed by a trooper during the response to flooding in that state brought on by Hurricane Matthew Monday.

Dennis Hunt, 56, was shot in Lumberton at around 8:08 p.m. after an encounter with troopers who were looking for flood victims, the state Department of Public Safety said in a statement.

"The male became hostile towards the officers and displayed a handgun," the DPS said. "After observing the handgun, the sergeant shot the man who succumbed to his injuries."

Related: Hurricane Matthew Death Toll Rises, N.C. Gov. Warns: 'Stay Away From the Water'

The highway patrol sergeant who shot Hunt was identified as J. F. Hinson, who has been with the patrol for 13 years. He was placed on administrative leave and a different agency, the State Bureau of Investigation, is investigating the shooting, the DPS said.

The shooting occurred as the highway patrol sergeant and two Robeson County sheriff’s deputies were traveling on a flooded part of West Fifth Street, the DPS statement said.

The incident took place in "swift water" around three to four feet deep while the three officers were assisting with search and rescue efforts, the State Bureau of Investigation said Tuesday.

Lumberton is a city of a little more than 21,500 people around 35 miles south of Fayetteville.

Related: Hurricane-Swollen North Carolina Rivers to Rise for Days

At least 39 people in all in Florida, Georgia and South and North Carolina died either directly due to the hurricane or of causes compounded by the storm, like carbon monoxide poisoning or electricity failure, authorities said.

There were 20 deaths in North Carolina blamed on the hurricane, not counting Hunt, authorities said. In Haiti, which absorbed the brunt of Matthew, an estimated 1,000 people were killed.