Burglary suspect dies after arrest

A burglary suspect died shortly after Henderson police took him into custody Tuesday night, and Police Chief Glen Allen has asked the State Bureau of Investigation to handle the inquiry.

Allen issued a news release Wednesday regarding the death of Larry Thomas Comer, 37, of 103 Carter St.

Police were called at 10:15 Tuesday night to 618 Highland Ave. to handle the report of a burglary in progress. The residents said a man forced his way through the front door, behaved “irrationally,” threw a chair through a window and left through the back door.

The neighborhood responded to the threat, and several people attempted to stop and hold the man they believed to be the Highland Avenue burglar. When a police officer arrived at the crime scene, he was directed around the corner to Sunset Avenue to the point where the surrounded was “still acting in an irrational manner.”

The officer used pepper spray and handcuffs to subdue Comer, who soon suffered medical distress. CPR was administered at the scene, but Comer was pronounced dead shortly after Vance Emergency Medical Services personnel brought him to Maria Parham Medical Center.

Dr. Bill Dennis of Henderson Family Medicine Clinic, serving as a Vance medical examiner, reported no signs of trauma after a preliminary check of the body. The body was sent to the state medical examiner in Chapel Hill for an autopsy and lab work.

Allen made a routine request for the SBI to handle the investigation because Comer died in police custody. The SBI has several eyewitnesses to interview.

The police chief did not include the officer’s name in the news release.