WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – A man was shot by law enforcement Wednesday after he allegedly tried to hit a deputy with his vehicle in downtown Wilmington.
Police do not believe this incident is related to any recent gun violence or gang activity.
According to a joint statement from the Wilmington Police Department and New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, the suspect was taken to the hospital and was in surgery Wednesday evening. The person’s identity has not yet been released.
Officials say officers tried to stop a vehicle around 5 p.m. Wednesday for a traffic offense but the driver refused to stop. Police supervisors decided not to pursue the vehicle because of the number of cars on the road at the time.
A short time later, the driver is accused of following WPD vehicles. At the same time, a NHCSO deputy was on foot near 4th and Grace Streets serving civil papers.
When the suspect allegedly tried to strike the deputy with his vehicle, both WPD officers and the deputy shot at the man and struck him at least once, according to investigators.
The suspect drove several blocks before colliding with a police vehicle and was then taken into custody at Grace and McRae.
Wilmington resident Jeffrey Lewis was standing on his porch with his daughter when he witnessed officers fire shots at the man in the vehicle.
“I noticed he was doing about 40 in a 25, so the light was red he stopped. A car went to make the intersection and I thought they were going to crash but a guy jumps out with a gun so I’m like ‘oh, what’s going on?’” said Lewis. “The truck stops and then, like, I can’t really hear because I’m about 50-60 feet away but I’m watching this guy point gun at the truck and then three shots go off: ‘pow pow pow!”
Lewis says he just moved to this part of town two weeks ago and says the incident made him scared for the safety of both himself and his children.
Investigators say Wilmington International Airport personnel encountered the same man earlier Wednesday.
Airport officials say the suspect was at Modern Aviation around 2 p.m. and asked to access the ramp where the aircraft are parked. Officials informed him the ramp was a secured area. Two minutes later, he returned, tried to gain access to the ramp himself and was asked to leave. Modern Aviation’s customer service manager then reported the man to the airport operation office, consistent with their policy.
The SBI has been called in to investigate the officer-involved shooting. The N.C. Highway Patrol is investigating the vehicle crash.
Per standard protocol, one WPD officer and one New Hanover County sheriff’s deputy have been placed on administrative, leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
This incident took place just a block away from where a shooting happened at N. 5th Avenue and Grace Streets a week ago.
The New Hanover County Sheriff Ed McMahon and Wilmington Police Department Police Chief Donny Williams were on the scene.
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