Tattoo artist dies after crash with Gaston County police officer

GASTON COUNTY, N.C. — A Gastonia tattoo artist was killed in a crash with a Gaston County Police Department officer over the weekend.

Investigators said the Gaston County officer was responding to a shooting call Saturday when he collided with Randy Herring’s truck on West Franklin Boulevard.

Herring dies from his injuries. The officer, whose name hasn’t been released, was taken to the hospital.

Police said the officer had his lights and siren on when he drove through the Webb Street intersection. The police cruiser was gone by the time a Channel 9 crew arrived at the scene, but we were able to see a pickup truck smashed against a pole.

Herring’s daughter, Brittany Thomas, told Channel 9′s Ken Lemon she just wants to know how the crash turned fatal when her father was in such a large and protective truck. She said her dad meant everything to her.

“Everything,” she said crying. “My kids lost their Paw Paw.”

The crash happened about two miles from Herring’s tattoo shop, where so many people say he touched their lives.

“He loved painting, drawing, he would even draw on my kids with a pen,” Thomas said.

Herring’s son, Randall Herring II, told Lemon he found out about the crash when loved ones realized his father was missing.

“His fiancée called me and couldn’t find him. So I went driving the roads that I knew he would be on and ended up coming up on the police officers who had the road roped off,” he said.

He said there were no details about what happened but he recognized some of the faces at the crash scene.

“A lot of the police officers on the scene, my father tattooed them,” he said.

He said his father would have been happy to see that.

Randy Herring had been a tattoo artist for four decades. On Monday, his customers and closest friends covered his social media page with images of him.

“He valued nothing more than friends,” his son said.

While the family has questions about what happened, Herring said he doesn’t believe his father would be angry with the officer responding to the call.

Gastonia police are investigating the crash. It’s not yet clear who caused it.

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