Police officers, guns, and community collide

ABC News

This being East Charlotte, they didn’t think much of the first burst, or even the second.
Four other officers would be wounded in the shooting in the sprawling, tree-lined neighborhood of brick homes.
“We’ve got to recognize it’s not normal to kill four police officers and wound four others,” said Willie Rachford, the longtime director of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations Department.
At least 12 different officers fired their guns during the incident, authorities said.
Two people – an adult woman and a 17-year-old – were taken from the house for questioning, and have been cooperative, Jennings said Tuesday.
“How many officers must be killed before our leaders take decisive action?” the FOP posted on Twitter following the Charlotte shooting.
His record in Mecklenburg County, home of Charlotte, shows 2021 charges relating to marijuana possession and eluding arrest.
In Charlotte, some community leaders are both mourning the officers’ deaths while worrying about the impact the incident will have on minority communities.

NEUTRAL

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina – Hearing gunshots interrupted Rissa Reign and her girlfriend’s spring cleaning, as they had left the door open to let the sun and dust out.

They weren’t particularly impressed with the first or even the second burst because this was East Charlotte. She pointed out that a lot of people own firearms, so perhaps someone was flaunting them.

Reign, 27, stated, “And then I heard the third round of shots and I knew something was up.”.

She decided to see if her friends, who worked at the corner store nearby, were okay after giving it some thought. She failed to go that far, though.

Police cars sped in as she was leaving, veering onto front lawns and barreling down the street. Reign parked and made her way on foot. She claimed that because she is a Black woman driving a muscle car, she gets pulled over frequently and didn’t want to take a chance right now.

Monday, an armed man across the street staged a gunfight against a U.S. S. A task force of marshals was dispatched to make his arrest.

There would be four dead police officers soon. Alden Elliott of the state’s Department of Adult Correction, Sam Poloche, U. s. Marshals Deputy Thomas M. Weeks Jr. and Joshua Eyer, a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer, were both fathers and married men. The shooting in the large, brick-home neighborhood surrounded by trees would injure four more officers.

The wanted man, Terry Clark Hughes Jr., would also be dead. whose criminal record included a progression from burglaries to drug offenses to gun possession. It was the kind of development that some groups have long bemoaned as an unbreakable cycle of violence.

Even though the gunshots only shook a small portion of a single North Carolina city, the result demonstrated how the nation’s complex problems can collide: American police experience an overwhelming sense of criticism. American communities where law enforcement operations far too frequently result in fatalities. the Americans themselves, who deal with the increasing prevalence of firearms in day-to-day existence.

Longstanding head of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations Department Willie Rachford stated, “We’ve got to realize it’s not normal to kill four police officers and wound four others.”. We’re so indifferent to it now. “.

Investigators would discover an AR-15-style assault rifle and a .40 caliber handgun—the same type of weapon at the heart of the country’s gun-rights controversy—in the house where the gunfight took place.

In the aftermath of that incident, law enforcement and the shocked community would have to deal with yet another round of inquiries about whether the effort had increased or decreased community safety.

the shooting.

Hide Saing Chhoeun while Reign was getting out of her car.

Officers stormed into Chhoeun’s driveway, hiding behind another parked car, as he was getting into his truck to go to work after locking his front door. Chhoeun is a commercial printer. They cried out for him to run for cover. After jumping out of his truck, Chhoeun realized he had left his keys in the ignition.

He got stuck outside his house because he couldn’t unlock it. With no other option, he hid behind his carport’s freezer, which was the only object he could see providing cover. Then he started livestreaming by removing his iPhone.

Shot after shot rang out as a siren sounded, raining bullets and pine needles in a spray around a second officer who was coming up from behind the house and fell to the ground.

Standing next to the car’s wheels in Chhoeun’s driveway were two officers donning tactical vests and assault rifles. They ducked when gunfire came and craned their necks to try and get a better look at how to shoot back.

Chhoeun declared that he was unafraid. As a child, he witnessed his own father being killed during violence in Cambodia, he claimed, and he fled the country long ago.

Chhoeun stated that these days, he and his friends frequently visit the shooting range.

Not that I was afraid or in a panic. He stated on Tuesday, “I was hiding behind a freezer full of meat; there wasn’t a bullet going through that, so I was calm.”. “.

He felt that the scene matched the official police accounting, like something straight out of a movie.

A heavily armed man was firing on police from the second story of a brick house in a neighborhood with trees while terrified residents watched.

Chhoeun claimed he saw gunfire from the back of the brick house hit one officer, then another. He listened to their desperate cries for help.

“They take whatever necessary action to recover the injured officer,” Chhoeun remarked. I’ve watched a lot of movies, so I was aware of what would happen. “.

Finally an armored vehicle arrived, he said, and officers drove it through his side yard and over the chain-link fence separating the two yards to rescue two downed officers.

Hughes was shot and killed by other officers on the front lawn of the house. Witnesses claimed they saw them tearing open the front of the house with the armored vehicle so they could send a drone inside to spy.

When Hughes was taken down, it appeared that shots were still coming from the house, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Johnny Jennings, who also said that gunfire was coming from several locations. Nevertheless, detectives claim they are still looking into whether or not that was the case. Officials reported that during the incident, at least twelve different officers fired their weapons.

Jennings said on Tuesday that two individuals, a 17-year-old and an adult woman, who were removed from the home for interrogation, had cooperated.

The safety risks associated with trying to apprehend Hughes, who was already wanted for possessing a gun, in the middle of the day in a residential area were not disclosed by Charlotte officials.

Members of a special task force whose work frequently turns deadly included the local and federal police officers present at the scene.

the law enforcement officers.

The Marshals Service is at the forefront of combating the rising gun violence and gun ownership in this nation. I. s. In a recent report released by the U.S. Department of Justice, Marshals agents arrested more people wanted on warrants than all other agencies combined. S. Marshals Service.

However, according to a 2021 analysis by USA Today and the Marshall Project, roughly two thirds of those arrests were of persons who were actually wanted on local warrants rather than federal ones. Because the Marshals Service’s rules on the use of force were more lax than those of many police departments, it was discovered that officers on the task forces of the Marshals shot more people, more frequently, than large metro police forces of a similar size.

The advocacy movement known as “defund the police” gained traction nationally in response to a greater number of instances of police brutality in recent years. This call, which gained traction after George Floyd, a Black man killed by police in Minneapolis in May 2020 during an attempted arrest, was made, centered on redirecting funding away from law enforcement and toward employment opportunities, mental health counseling, and alternatives to incarceration.

“Blue Lives Matter” protests and portrayals of the current wave of interactions as a crime wave that targets police are the response from proponents of police reform.

The most vocal opponents of the police protests have been law enforcement unions, such as the Fraternal Order of Police. They demand that those who use violence against police face harsher punishments.

“After the shooting in Charlotte, how many police deaths are necessary before our leaders act decisively?” the FOP asked on Twitter. “How much bloodshed must occur before they say enough is enough?”.

The proliferation of both legal and illicit firearms in the US is a major contributing factor to the violence.

The national president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, Mathew Silverman, stated, “There is no question –100% – that there are more violent crimes occurring and that there are more guns in people’s possession.”. “The most violent offenders worldwide are pursued by the Marshals Service. “.

“At this moment, law enforcement is at a turning point,” he declared.

The results, however, can appear uncannily repetitive as police encounter more firearms and respond accordingly.

In order to confront a more well-armed public, U. s. Silverman stated that Marshals agents now have more advanced training and tactics. More “shoot houses,” which are mock homes and businesses where agents practice subduing and apprehending suspects in close quarters, will be constructed as part of this plan. Additionally, more Tactical Training Officers—elite, highly trained officers—will join groups serving warrants.

The agency would not divulge any information regarding the team’s training in Charlotte, according to Brady McCarron, deputy chief of Public Affairs.

The aftermath.

After the fight, the police claimed to have found an AR-15-style rifle and a .40 caliber handgun inside the house. Over 100 rounds had been fired into and out of the building during the conflict.

Hughes’ adult criminal history reveals a trajectory through several less serious infractions. He was found guilty of breaking and entering in 2010 and sentenced to six months in jail, according to local TV station WCNC. He tried to elude police later and was arrested once more, according to the news station.

Charges from 2021 for possession of marijuana and evading arrest are listed on his record in Charlotte’s home county of Mecklenburg County. But in the beginning of 2021, the district attorney there decided not to pursue many drug-related cases. Hughes was already prohibited from possessing a firearm due to his criminal record.

Other counties had outstanding warrants for his arrest. What warrants specifically prompted Monday’s attempted arrest was not known.

Certain leaders in Charlotte’s community are grieving over the deaths of the officers while also being concerned about how the incident may affect minority communities. At a Tuesday night prayer rally featuring the mayor of the city, a congresswoman, and almost a dozen civic and religious leaders—many of them from Black churches—none of the city’s law enforcement community members spoke.

For a while now, things have been tense. The Freedom Center for Social Justice’s Cameron Pruett stated, “And people I’ve talked to worry that this incident will increase the tension and that any progress we’ve made since 2020 is at risk if we don’t all step up.”.

President Joe Biden has been pressing Congress to enact gun reform legislation, which includes a national red flag law, increased background checks for gun purchases, and a ban on assault weapons like the ones that police claim Hughes fired at them.

Regarding the police involved in the shooting on Monday, President Joe Biden said in a statement, “They are heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice, rushing into harm’s way to protect us.”. “We are in sorrow for them and their family members. And we offer prayers for the brave officers who suffered injuries to heal. “.”.

Reign and others, though, were just astounded that more people in East Charlotte, where gunfire isn’t too uncommon, weren’t hurt: “It’s crazy nobody was hurt, bystanders,” Reign remarked.

Thank goodness, Chhoeun added, that none of his neighbors were harmed. He is upset, though, that Hughes did not simply give up when the police came.

Chhoeun declared, “What he did was wrong.”. It was not necessary for him to drag other lives with him if he wanted to leave this world. “.”.

Contributing was USA TODAY’s Rick Jervis.

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