Four ‘hero’ officers killed in Charlotte shootout

Erik Verduzco, Peter Smith |

Four law enforcement officers have been killed during a shootout in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Four law enforcement officers have been killed during a shootout in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Four police officers serving a warrant on a felon wanted for possessing a firearm have been killed and four others wounded in a shootout at a North Carolina home.

Some of the officers who rushed to the Charlotte neighbourhood to rescue the first wave of downed officers were wounded as a second shooter began firing after they killed the wanted man, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Johnny Jennings said.

“Today we lost some heroes who were out simply trying to keep our community safe,” Jennings said at a news conference.

After a three-hour standoff, the suburban Charlotte home was torn open. Armoured vehicles smashed into it, ripping off windows and entire doorways.

The US Marshals Task Force was fired on by the wanted suspect as they approached the house and the man was killed in the front yard, Jennings said.

His name was not released, but the chief said he was wanted as a felon illegally possessing a weapon.

A second person then fired on officers from inside the home where a high-powered rifle was found, Jennings added.

A woman and a 17-year-old male were found in the home after the standoff and were being questioned.

The Marshal’s Service confirmed one of its agents was killed. Two officers from the state Department of Adult Correction also were killed, said North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper. The governor was in Charlotte and was speaking to the families of the officers killed and hurt. Their names have not been released.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer Joshua Eyer died a few hours later in hospital, Jennings said.

Eyer was named the officer of the month for the force for April a few weeks ago.

“He certainty gave his life and dedicated his life to protecting our citizens,” the police chief said.

One other member of the task force, which is made up of federal agents and other officers from across the region was injured.

Three other Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers who responded to the scene were shot while trying to rescue the wounded officers.

Johnny Jennings
Police Chief Johnny Jennings says the officers were “heroes” trying to keep the community safe. (AP PHOTO)

Neighbours said gunfire lasted for several minutes.

“A lot of the questions that need to be answered, we don’t even know what those questions are now,” Jennings said, briefing reporters less than four hours after the shooting.

“We have to get a full understanding of why this occurred and also uphold the integrity of the investigation.”

Many roads in the area including Interstate 77 were closed so ambulances could get to hospitals faster. TV footage showed ambulances speeding to hospitals escorted by vehicles both in front and behind with their sirens wailing.

Four Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools were placed on lockdown around afternoon dismissal, but that was lifted in the late afternoon, the district said.

Police urged people to stay away from the neighbourhood and asked residents to remain inside their homes until the all clear was given.

President Joe Biden was briefed on the shooting and spoke with Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles to express his condolences and support for the community.

The last marshal shot and killed in the line of duty was in November 2018. Chase White was shot in Tucson, Arizona, by a man wanted for stalking local law enforcement officers, the agency said.

The Carolinas Regional Fugitive Task Force is headquartered in Charlotte and comprised of 70 federal, state and local agencies. Fugitive task forces are collaborations between agencies to find and arrest suspects in crimes.