The next-door neighbor of Richie Nolton, the man shot and killed Saturday during a standoff with Henderson police, is disturbed by how police handled the situation.
Keith Nieto, 30, said Sunday that Nolton was a good friend and their families were close. He spoke to Nolton just minutes before he was shot.
Nolton’s 15-year-old son called Nieto after officers surrounded the Nolton house at 618 Severn St., near East Horizon Drive and Greenway Road. Police said they were responding to a domestic dispute at the home about 6:50 a.m.
Police were trying to coax Nolton out of the house. Nolton’s son asked Nieto to mediate the situation over the phone, Nieto said. Nolton and his son were the only two people in the house.
Nolton, in his early 40s, was upset.
“I didn’t do anything wrong. They’re going to take me to jail, but I didn’t do anything wrong,” Nieto recounted him saying.
Nieto told his friend to come out of the house. He also asked the boy to come out, but the boy, who was scared, told him, “I’m not leaving my dad. He didn’t do anything wrong.”
The incident unfolded in a matter of minutes, Nieto said. From his living room window, he heard Nolton come outside and yell, “Keith! Keith! Come take my son.”
Nieto said he went to get the boy but police yelled at him to return inside. Shortly after, he heard a single gunshot. He said his friend was shot once in the neck and died at the scene. The son later told Nieto that he had been reaching for his father when he was shot.
Immediately after the shooting, police placed a psychiatric hold on the teen, handcuffing him and taking him to St. Rose Dominican Hospital, de Lima campus, Nieto said. The boy was later taken to Montevista Hospital, a psychiatric facility. Nieto visited him on Sunday.
Nieto said police believed the boy was suicidal, but the boy, while upset and angry over what happened, did not seem suicidal when the two met in the hospital.
A Henderson Police Department spokesman on Sunday declined to comment on the situation.
Nieto described his friend as someone who would “give the shirt off his back.” When Nieto went out of town, Nolton cleaned his pool. When Nieto asked Nolton if he had two spare bottles of water, Nolton offered to go to the store to pick some up.
“I just want everybody to know the guy was a great guy,” he said. “He would never hurt anybody.”
He said Nolton was a great father, and his sons always said, “Yes, sir” or “No, sir.”
The two talked almost every day, and in the days leading up to the standoff, Nieto noticed nothing different in his friend’s behavior. Nieto also said he didn’t know anything about the Saturday morning domestic situation. He said Nolton’s wife, her mother and the couple’s 13-year-old son had left the home before the 15-year-old son called him.
Police said an officer shot Nolton because the man came out of the house with a handgun. After repeatedly asking Nolton to put the gun down, an officer fired, police said. A witness who spoke to the Review-Journal on Saturday corroborated the department’s sequence of events.
Though Nieto acknowledges that he didn’t see the incident unfold, he said he never heard police mention a gun.
“I never heard them say, ‘Drop the gun.’ I never heard any of that,” he said.
Nolton never mentioned having a weapon to Nieto.
Nieto said he was not speaking on behalf of Nolton family members, who have declined to comment.
“I just want the truth to come out,” he said. “If he (Nolton) was in the wrong, he was in the wrong. But if he wasn’t, then that has to come out.”
He added, “It just blew me away the way they handled this.”
Nieto said the situation has upset everyone who knows Nolton, who was close to his sons.
“Every Fourth of July they will have this to remember.”
Contact reporter Lawrence Mower at
email@example.com or 702-383-0440.