Police have identified the cause of death for a Lincolnton woman allegedly murdered by her estranged husband on Thursday before dying himself after a standoff with county SWAT officers.
Officers said, following an autopsy of the victim on Friday, that Tara Lynn Clark Osburn, 39, died of a gunshot wound.
Police said her husband, Anthony Ray Osburn, 40, killed her.
There was also no sign of a struggle, according to Lincolnton Police lieutenant Brian Greene.
Tara Osburn’s body was located in a pool of blood under a carport at her residence on Salem Church Road around 6 p.m. Thursday, police said.
A delivery man with Aaron’s, Inc., told the Times-News he found the body while dropping off a new washer and dryer for the residence, which had recently been rented.
Neighbors told police they spotted the suspect’s pickup truck earlier on Thursday at the woman’s residence, according to an agency press release.
Shortly after the body was found, police located the man’s truck in an area near Colonial Village Apartments and attempted to stop his vehicle to discuss his wife’s death.
Afraid he may be armed, the release said, police called a patrol vehicle to the scene.
Anthony Osburn parked his truck, and an officer ordered that he show his hands. The driver pulled out a semi-automatic handgun instead, police said, and fired shots at the officer.
As the officer returned fire, the suspect fled the area, running toward Lantern Ridge Apartments, where police said he lived. Neither Anthony Osburn nor the officer was injured during the exchange.
Soon cops were involved in a standoff with the suspect, who hid several hours inside his apartment.
The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team was called to the scene by 8 p.m. and asked to take over the situation, with police still assisting.
Troopers with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol were also on hand, Sheriff David Carpenter said.
Officers evacuated 11 apartments located near the suspect’s residence and began negotiations with him.
“The negotiators did very well in talking to the suspect and giving him options in order to de-escalate the situation,” sheriff’s lieutenant and SWAT team leader Jason Reid said.
During more than two hours of negotiating, the suspect confessed to killing his wife before refusing to collaborate with officers, the Lincolnton Police Department said.
He said, “give me five minutes and you can come in and get my dead body,” according to a press release.
SWAT officers then shot chemical munitions through the man’s apartment window to try to force him out, Reid said.
He described the weapon as a fierce irritant to the skin and eyes.
At one point, Anthony Osburn shot at officers from the window, prompting a first exchange of gunfire between the two parties in the standoff, police said.
A second wave of gunfire around 12:30 a.m. Friday ended the suspect’s life.
Armed with a handgun, the man finally exited his apartment and shot at officers, triggering the tactical team’s deadly response.
Friday afternoon, hours after the event’s conclusion, Reid spoke to the Times-News about the situation’s intensity and the true purpose behind his team’s decision to respond to the scene.
Reid first requested that the community consider the families of each of the individuals who lost their lives.
“We send out our thoughts and prayers to the family members of both the suspect and victim,” he said.
Reid gave assurances that he and the rest of the tactical team did not respond Thursday night with plans to shoot and kill Anthony Osburn.
“We weren’t there to end a man’s life,” he said. “We were there to save it. Unfortunately, he pointed and fired his weapon at officers, giving us only one option.”
As far as going into the suspect’s apartment to remove him, Reid revealed how both he and Carpenter determined the move to be dangerous and “life-threatening for everyone involved.”
Because the tactical team trains frequently throughout the year, Reid said the group was adequately equipped for the rare event.
“It’s not a situation we see every day,” he said, “but it’s one in which we train for monthly. We were extremely mentally and physically prepared.”
Carpenter praised the special unit for their skills.
“The hard work and training they have received since I have been sheriff,” he said, “was exemplified.”
The State Bureau of Investigation is currently looking into both the woman’s death and the shooting at Lantern Ridge Apartments.
Tara Osburn’s death is the first homicide case for the city agency this year.
Police Chief Rodney Jordan commended his entire force for returning home from the incident unscathed and displaying “great courage under fire” in the midst of it. He also celebrated the SWAT team’s successful and “outstanding” control of the situation.
“I am glad no officers were hurt during this unfortunate event,” he said, “and ask that you think about us as we begin debriefing the situation.”
Carpenter agreed with his fellow law enforcement leader.
“We thank Almighty God for the safe outcome of our officers and the citizens around the scene,” he said. “We just ask that the public continue to keep our folks in their daily prayers as we recover.”
According to an obituary, the victim was born in Maricopa County in Arizona and has two sons, Anthony and Kodi Clark, and one daughter, Shannon Osburn, all of Lincolnton.
Tara Osburn is additionally survived by her sister Brandi Schaffer, of Michigan, three nieces and her parents, Melborne “Mel” Clark and Ramona D. Clark, who reside in Connecticut, the obituary said.
A memorial service for the victim will be 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at E. F. Drum Funeral Home in Lincolnton.
Following the service, family will receive friends.
Anyone wishing to send condolences may visit efdrumfuneralhome.com.