The Warren County Sheriff’s Office released details Wednesday about an investigation involving a man who was found dead of a gunshot wound to the head Saturday evening at a Linden residence.
A news release described the circumstances that led Nicholas Ranstad, 40, identified in court documents as a special operations command employee at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, to travel to Warren County from the military base.
According to the release, Ranstad called 911 after finding a man’s body with what, Ranstad said, was a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Lt. Phillip Henry said he couldn’t confirm whether the man shot himself.
“We’re not saying it’s a suicide investigation,” Henry said in a phone call Wednesday. “We’re not saying it’s a homicide investigation. This is a death investigation.”
Warren County Sheriff Mike Arnold said the death is being investigated as an unattended death.
The Sheriff’s Office news release identified the man who died as Sean Miller, a former Marine Corps major, according to his social media account. Social media posts by friends and former colleagues overseas indicate Miller struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder.
One year ago, Miller told his story to the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society for National Nurses Week. Miller said he sustained a “traumatic brain injury” when he drove over an improvised explosive device, according to the story. His brain injury lead to his later withdrawing from public life and, he told the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, he considered “going off the grid” before getting help.
Court documents and the news release state that Ranstad said he knew Miller and was concerned for his well-being, which led him to travel to Warren County from Fayetteville, North Carolina, the home of Fort Bragg.
When he arrived at Miller’s home in Linden, according to court documents, Ranstad picked the lock on the window to check on his friend.
After finding his friend dead, Ranstad told police that he was distressed and discharged his own firearm four times into the floor of the house, according to court documents and the press release. Court documents state Ranstad fired “one of the firearms that he carried into the residence with him.” Henry said he couldn’t say how many firearms Ranstad had, citing an ongoing investigation.
Sheriff’s deputies charged Ranstad with misdemeanor reckless handling of a firearm and felony discharging a firearm inside a building.
Ranstad was released on secured bond Tuesday afternoon and is free to travel back to North Carolina. He will appear in court in August.
Henry said the investigation into Miller’s death is ongoing and won’t be classified as anything other than a death investigation until it is concluded.
“There won’t be a definite answer as to what it’s going to be closed as until we complete the investigation,” Henry said. “All investigations into deaths are going to be a death investigation and throughout the investigation, it will lean one way or another.”