Warren County Sheriff’s Office deputies investigating an unattended death Saturday at a Linden home have arrested a North Carolina man and charged him with reckless handling of a firearm and discharging a firearm inside a building.
Nicholas Ranstad, 40, of Fayetteville, North Carolina, was found at the home where Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a call about a man with a gunshot wound to the head.
According to the checklist for bail determinations filled out by the Sheriff’s Office, Ranstad is employed by the special operations command at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. Investigators declined to comment whether Ranstad is on active military duty or is the same man who held a United States record for the longest kill with a sniper rifle, set in Afghanistan in January 2008.
According to a complaint filed at the Warren County courthouse, Sheriff’s Office deputies met Ranstad at the scene and, after advising him of his Miranda rights, he admitted he picked the lock on the window of the home to “check on the welfare” of the man inside.
Ranstad has no family ties to Warren County, according to the police checklist, but Lt. Phillip Henry, an investigator with the Sheriff’s Office, did say Ranstad was not in Warren County by accident. Henry said there was no need for the public to be concerned but that Ranstad “was not here in our area randomly. He was here for a purpose.”
Due to it being an active investigation, Henry declined to say what investigators believe that purpose was. Henry said the investigation was active and declined to answer whether they were pursuing other charges against Ranstad including breaking and entering or homicide.
“At this point, it’s a death investigation,” Henry said. “Any death that is reported is investigated. Unattended deaths are always investigated. Once you conclude the investigation, you’ll determine which way we’re going to go.”
Henry declined to comment whether Ranstad knew the man inside, citing an ongoing investigation. Henry also declined to say whether Ranstad called to report the gunshot wound.
When Ranstad saw the man dead with a gunshot wound to the head, he told officers he “became upset and used one of the firearms he had carried into the residence with him,” firing off four rounds inside the residence, according to the complaint.
Henry said the investigation will include ballistics tests on any firearms that may have been used.