Charlotte police investigation of deaths of 4 officers finds suspect acted alone; no friendly fire

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A man who fatally shot four law enforcement officers with an assault rifle a month ago acted alone and was solely responsible for all casualties, police in North Carolina’s largest city said Friday.

“At this point in the investigation, it has been determined there was one shooter and no friendly fire,” Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Deputy Chief Tonya Arrington told reporters.

Four other officers were also wounded in the April 29 incident in a residential neighborhood, the deadliest shooting against law enforcement officers since 2016, when a sniper killed five officers at a Dallas protest. President Joe Biden traveled to Charlotte and met privately with the families of the officers who died.

Officers from a U.S. Marshals Task Force based in Charlotte came under fire at a home when they tried to serve warrants for possession of a firearm by an ex-felon and fleeing to elude. Law enforcement officers shot and killed 39-year-old Terry Clark Hughes Jr., who had been wanted in adjoining Lincoln County.

Hughes was on the second floor of the home. Arrington said he ran between windows, giving some the impression that there could have been two shooters. There were two females in the home with him, but the investigation determined they did not fire at officers, she said.

“The suspect told the female occupants to get out or get down before he fired his weapon at officers,” Arrington said. “All evidence shows there was only one shooter during this incident.”

She also said no other guns were located in the house, so the females would have had nothing to shoot with.

At least 12 officers fired their weapons as they engaged in gunfire with the suspect for over 17 minutes. “That’s an eternity; they were in a gunbattle,” Arrington said.

Hughes, armed with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and also a 40-caliber handgun that he did not fire during the shootout, then jumped out of a second-floor window and was shot by officers in the front yard.

Police, still believing there might have been a second shooter, then moved an armored vehicle in to evacuate the wounded officers and observed movement from a second-story window, according to Arrington.

Officers “utilized suppressive gunfire at two targeted locations where the suspect was firing from to facilitate the evacuation of our wounded officers. Based on this evidence, there was no friendly fire in this case,” she said.

Arrington said the investigation was enormous in scope and included the examination of video from body-worn cameras, 8,900 images, 65 officer interviews and 765 pieces of physical evidence.

“This was a shooter that was intent on trying to kill officers that day,” Arrington said.

The officers killed were Sam Poloche and William Elliott of the North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections; Charlotte-Mecklenburg Officer Joshua Eyer; and Deputy U.S. Marshal Thomas Weeks.

Police Chief Johnny Jennings said officers were still coming to grips with what he called “the most tragic time in the history of our department.”

“Some are doing better than others ... but the bottom line is we’re continuing to do the work,” he said.