Charlotte community mourns loss of officers in deadly shooting: 'No apologies for my tears' (2024)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Local officials and community members came together Tuesday night to honorthe four law enforcement officers who were killed when gunfire erupted at a houseinNorth Carolina, where authorities were trying to serve a warrant.

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles stood at the pulpit of Little Rock A.M.E. Zion Church addressing a room of about 50 gathered for a prayer vigil the day after four law enforcement officers, including three on a U.S. Marshals Task Force, were killed and four other officers were injured in a shootout at a suburban home in east Charlotte. The suspect who fired at officers was fatally shot on the lawn of the house, while two other people inside the home were later taken in for questioning.

"I have to say I make no apologies for my tears," Lyles said during Tuesday's vigil. "What makes me whole is to be a genuine leader in this community, who’s not afraid to show vulnerability when it’s necessary and needed."

Lyles thanked the law enforcement officers who stood outside the hospital in the aftermath of the shooting, the medical professionals who helped the injured, and the clergy that "guided the families through the kinds of turmoil and disbelief that all was taking place at the same time."

The mayor said the most difficult experience was whenCharlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Officer Joshua Eyer died from his injuries, noting that he was married and had a 3-year-old son.

"Our challenge to this community is take make sure that 3-year-old son grows up knowing his dad," Lyles said. "His dad was a law enforcement officer, he was a hero, he was someone that we should be proud to know and speak of."

Suspect in deadly Charlotte shooting named

Around 1:30 p.m. Monday, officers with the U.S. Marshals Task Force arrived at a home in a suburb of Charlotte to serve several active warrants against 39-year-old Terry Clark Hughes Jr., who was wanted for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and two counts of fleeing to elude, according to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

Armed with a "high-powered rifle," Hughes fired upon the approaching task force officers, striking several of them, police said. Officers called for backup and, as additional law enforcement responded to the scene, "the gunfire continued, striking additional officers," the department said. Authorities eventually shot Hughes, who was pronounced dead on the front lawn. At least 12 Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers fired their weapons during the incident, all of whom are on paid administrative leave, the department said in a statement Tuesday.

Police then began negotiations with other people in the home before authorities eventually sieged the house with armored vehicles. A semi-automatic AR-15 rifle, a .40-caliber handgun and additional magazines and ammunition for the weapons were found at the scene.

Two women were brought in for questioning after they exited the house, the police department said in a statement. Johnny Jennings, chief of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, had earlier said a 17-year-old and a woman were being questioned. Investigators are not looking for any other suspects or persons of interest in the case, according to the police department.

8 officers shot, 4 killed

Eight officers – four from the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force and four from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department – were shot in the incident. Of the officers who were killed, three were from the task force and the other was from the police department.

Two of the slain task force members, Sam Poloche and Alden Elliott, were employed by the the state's Department of Adult Correction for 14 years, a statement from the department said. Poloche is survived by his wife and two children, according to the state's correction department. Elliot was married and had one child. Both were pronounced dead at a hospital.

"They loved their work, and were passionate about their roles in protecting our communities," the statement said, adding: "These officers died as heroes and made the ultimate sacrifice in their service to our state."

U.S. Marshals Deputy Thomas M. Weeks Jr., 48, of Mooresville, North Carolina, was killed in the shooting, the agency said in a statement. Weeks, a husband and the father of four children, was a 13-year veteran of the Marshals Service.

Charlotte community mourns loss of officers in deadly shooting: 'No apologies for my tears' (2)

After hours in the hospital, Eyer, a six-year veteran of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, died from his injuries.

"He fought for several hours and passed away from his injuries with his wife and family by his side tonight," Jennings wrote on X. "I am truly grateful for his bravery, service and ultimate sacrifice. He will never be forgotten, and we are forever indebted."

A manned Concord Police Department cruiser idled outside a two story home early Tuesday afternoon at an address in Monroe listed for Eyer. Concord Officer Thiago DeSouza, stationed outside the gray-paneled house, walked past three cars sitting in the driveway to knock on the grieving family’s door. The family declined to talk with USA TODAY, DeSouza said.Two CMPD cars and two black Ford vans driven by officers arrived at the Hallstead neighborhood east of Charlotte later Tuesday, with several members of the home filing into the police vehicles shortly after.

Three CMPD officers were released from the hospital after being treated for injuries including gunshot wounds and a broken foot, and a fourth underwent surgery to treat his gunshot wound and remains hospitalized in stable condition, the department said.

Memorials for fallen officers growing

Flowers in memory of the slain law enforcement officers have been placed outside the Federal Courthouse in Charlotte and CMPD's headquarters, photos from the scenes show. The Rev. Raymond Johnson, associate pastor of the Mount Pisgah Baptist Church in Marion, South Carolina, was moved by his faith to drive to Charlotte and sit on the front yard of the partially destroyed home.

As Amazon delivery trucks jockeyed past media vehicles parked along both sides of the narrow paved road, Johnson waved signs saying, “Praying for Peace” and “Praying for Everyone,” and said he was present on behalf of family members of his congregation who live in the areas.

“Sometimes when you serve Jesus you have to get on foot patrol,” he said after laying flowers on the lawn.

Lawmakers reignite calls for assault weapons ban in aftermath

Among the crowd during Tuesday's vigil at Little Rock A.M.E. Zion Church were several Charlotte City Council members, Mecklenburg County Commission members, and Rep. Alma S. Adams.

Adams, who represents the 12th Congressional District of North Carolina, addressed the room, mentioning that about 30 minutes before her speaking, Rep. Jeff Jackson led a moment of silence on the House floor.

“Yesterday … four officers, fathers, brothers and sons demonstrated the best of human courage, and conviction, and selflessness so great that they were willing to give their lives to protect their community and their families,” Adams said from the pulpit.

Adams later told the USA TODAY Network that Congress has "done this kind of thing” before, commemorating those who have fallen or been shot. She said the "time is up for that."

Assault weapons – what she calls "weapons of war" – like the high-powered rifle used by the suspect in the hourslong standoff Monday, "do not belong on our streets," the congresswoman said.

“We need to turn our anguish into action … I’m calling on leaders in Congress, my colleagues, to not forget what happened here in Charlotte,” Adams said while addressing the vigil.

"I’m calling on them to join me. We need to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and require safe storage of guns. And (we need) to pass universal background checks and a National Red Flag Law.”

Charlotte community receives support locally, nationally

Condolences for the officers involved in one of the deadliest recent attacks on law enforcement poured out from small communities to the White House. When Lyles got in a car to go home around midnight the day of the shooting, she said she was "shocked" that President Joe Biden called her.

"I was so glad to hear him say that this would make a difference," Lyles said during Tuesday's vigil. "Whatever he could do, whatever he could provide (he would)."

Lyles said Vice President Kamala Harris called Tuesday afternoon “with the same kind of dedication to law enforcement and especially dedication to those that lost their lives.”

Fund established for local agencies impacted by shootout

In response to Monday's attack, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Foundation created a Help Our Heroes fund, providing mental health care for local public safety employees and first responder agencies. The fund would also be used to support impact agencies and their employees.

Contributions may also be donated to the families of the four officers killed, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said Tuesday. "Contributions will be directed either to the family or as specified," the department said on X, formerly Twitter.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the fund has raised over $13,000, Bradford Muller, a spokesperson for the foundation, told USA TODAY.

The foundation was established in 2004 by local business and civic leaders to support the police department and promote public safety in Charlotte, according to Muller.

Neighbors recall shootout, massive police response

Saing Chhoeun, 54, was just leaving his house shortly after 1 p.m. when members of a U.S. Marshals task force raced into his yard, taking cover behind a powder-blue Honda sedan.

As gunfire blasted through the yard of the two-story home next door, Chhoeun began livestreaming to Facebook from his iPhone.

Chhoeun said he watched as one officer and then another was hit by gunfire from the rear of the brick home, and heard the frantic calls for assistance. He said two women ran outside the house, as did another man, and authorities crashed an armored vehicle through his backyard to reach the two downed officers.

"They do what they gotta do to get the officer who was shot," he said, looking at the twisted fencing and deep ruts left by the vehicle, which officers later used to rip the front of the house open so they could send a drone in. "I've seen a lot of movies and knew what was coming."

Rissa Reign, 27, was spring cleaning her house with her girlfriend, the door open to let dust and negative energy out, when she heard gunfire.

“This is the east side of Charlotte and I was like 'ah well,' and then I heard the second set and I thought maybe got someone got a new gun," said Reign, a children’s group counselor. "And then I heard the third round and I knew something was up. Then we heard the sirens.”

Curious to see if the gunfire was a robbery at the corner store, Reign said she hopped in her car to drive down the street when she saw police cars careening into the neighborhood.

“They were literally bouncing off of stuff,” she said. “Like if there was a car in the way they would drive up on the sidewalk or the grass.”

Reign said she and her girlfriend stayed well back from the house where the shooting happened, watching and hoping none of their other neighbors had gotten hurt by a stray bullet.

Tuesday afternoon, she stood in front of the damaged house and marveled at the destruction. And she wondered aloud if the gunman had been sneaking around the upstairs of his house, shooting down at police officers from multiple locations.

Suspect had long criminal history, records show

Hughes served time in prison following multiple felony convictions, including for breaking and entering, fleeing from the police and possession of a firearm, state records show. He's also faced many drug related charges.

In 2010, he served six months in prison after he was convicted on a felony breaking and entering charge related to an incident that occurred the year before, according to the North Carolina Department of Adult Correction.

In June 2012, he was arrested on charges of speeding to elude arrest. Hughes was convicted of fleeing and possession of a firearm by a felon in October 2012 and served 11 months in prison, according to the North Carolina Department of Adult Correction.

In May 2021, he was arrested on several charges, including possession of marijuana paraphernalia, manufacturing marijuana and eluding arrest in a motor vehicle, according to the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office website. He was released on bond, records show.

The marijuana charges against Hughes were dismissed by the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office. After Hughes bonded out on the eluding arrest charge, he failed to appear in court, leading to a warrant for his arrest in December 2022 and a pause in court proceedings.

The Mecklenburg County District Attorney's Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The district attorney's office said in a statement it will continue to work with law enforcement to obtain “a complete understanding of the events of this unspeakable tragedy.”

“While we will generally reserve comment until after an investigation has concluded, know that we grieve for the brave law enforcement officers who made the ultimate sacrifice yesterday and to the families they leave behind,” the statement said.

Dozens of officers shot in line of duty

Nearly 100 officers were shot, including 10 who were killed, in the first three months of 2024, according to a March update from The National Fraternal Order of Police.

Brady McCarron, a spokesperson for the U.S. Marshals Service, said six deputies have been fatally shot in the line of duty since 2011, not including those killed Monday. Firearms overtook COVID-19 as the leading cause of death for police officers in 2023, but the number of officers killed by gunfire declined and remained far below the number of firearms-related officer deaths seen 50years ago, according to a preliminary report released January by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

Though the decline in officer deaths is a "welcome trend," National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund CEO Bill Alexander previously told USA TODAY he's concerned about an increase in nonfatal shootings.

"I really do suspect that 2023 might be an anomaly in terms of the total number of men and women who die by gunfire, particularly given the number of men and women who were shot and thankfully survived," he said. "But it is a scary number, and I do worry that 2024 will result in a much higher number than what we had in 2023."

Biden: 'They are heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice'

President Joe Biden on Monday released a statement calling the officers "heroes" and saying he and first lady Jill Biden will be praying for the families and the recovering officers. The president also spoke with Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles to express his condolences and support for the community.

"They are heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice, rushing into harm’s way to protect us," the president said in a statement. "We mourn for them and their loved ones. And we pray for the recoveries of the courageous officers who were wounded."

Biden added more needs to be done to protect law enforcement: "That means funding them - so they have the resources they need to do their jobs and keep us safe. And it means taking additional action to combat the scourge of gun violence."

Contributing: Rick Jervis, Jonathan Limehouse, Thao Nguyen, and Michael Loria, USA TODAY

Charlotte community mourns loss of officers in deadly shooting: 'No apologies for my tears' (2024)


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