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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

8 officers are shot, 4 fatally, while serving warrant in Charlotte

The shooting occurred when members of a U.S. Marshals fugitive task force tried to serve a warrant and were met by gunfire, the police said.

By Sopan Deb, Livia Albeck-Ripka, Eduardo Medina and Remy Tumin

Eight law officers were shot Monday, four fatally, as a U.S. Marshals fugitive task force tried to serve a warrant in Charlotte, North Carolina, police said, in one of the deadliest days for law enforcement in recent years.

Around 1:30 p.m., members of the task force went to serve a warrant on a person for being a felon in possession of a firearm, Johnny Jennings, the chief of police of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, said at a news conference Monday evening.

When they approached the residence, the suspect, later identified as Terry Clark Hughes Jr., fired at them, police said. The officers returned fire and struck Hughes, 39. He was later pronounced dead in the front yard of the residence.

As police approached the shooter, Jennings told reporters, the officers were met with more gunfire from inside the home. After a long standoff, two women in the home were taken to a police station to be interviewed, police later said in a statement.

“Today is an absolute tragic day for the city of Charlotte and for the profession of law enforcement,” Jennings said. “Today, we lost some heroes that are out simply trying to keep our community safe.”

In all, four members of the task force were shot, three of whom died. The North Carolina Department of Adult Correction said in a statement that two of its veteran officers, Sam Poloche and Alden Elliott, were killed. The U.S. Marshals Service confirmed that one of its deputy marshals was among those killed. The task force is made up of officers from multiple agencies.

Four members of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department were also shot, one of whom died from his injuries Monday night, police said on social media. The officer, Joshua Eyer, who had been with the department for six years, was helping other officers arrest the suspect when he was shot, police said.

“He fought for several hours and passed away from his injuries with his wife and family by his side tonight,” Jennings said in a statement posted to social media Monday evening. “I am truly grateful for his bravery, service and ultimate sacrifice,” he said.

Authorities shut down the city’s Shannon Park neighborhood, east of downtown, Monday afternoon after gunfire erupted in order to more easily move victims to hospitals, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department wrote on social media.

By evening, the shelter-in-place orders had been lifted, and yellow crime scene tape sectioned off part of the street where the shooting had occurred. Two black SWAT vehicles drove away from the site.

Janice Williams, a neighbor, said she believed three or four people lived inside the home where the shooting took place and that nothing had stuck out to her about them. “They were pretty much quiet, to themselves,” she said. “I’m sorry that this ever happened.”

Charlene Middleton, a 36-year-old school counselor, has lived in the area her whole life and, since 2015, in a home across the street from where the incident occurred. When she returned home from work in the evening, she said, she saw casings scattered all over the street, as well as a large police presence.

Although she said there had been occasional shootings in the area, she could not recall anything of this magnitude.

Another resident, Mary Sutter, said she had trouble returning home from her job at a nearby high school because the neighborhood was so packed with police cars. “We’re all just shocked that this has happened here,” she said.

In a statement Monday night, President Joe Biden shared his condolences with the families of the officers who had been killed and injured in the shootout. “They are heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice, rushing into harm’s way to protect us,” he said. “We mourn for them and their loved ones. And we pray for the recoveries of the courageous officers who were wounded.”

The president urged leaders in Congress to take action “to combat the scourge of gun violence” by banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and by passing universal background checks, among other measures. “Enough is enough,” he said.

Vi Lyles, the mayor of Charlotte, said at the news conference: “These are people that care deeply about what they’ve done for a profession. And now today, we have to say to them how much we are grateful for what they have done.”

Gov. Roy Cooper expressed his condolences on social media to the “families and co-workers of officers in today’s brutal attack.” And in a statement, Attorney General Merrick Garland said, “Every single day, Deputy U.S. Marshals and Task Force Officers put their lives on the line to apprehend some of our country’s most dangerous criminals.” The Justice Department is “heartbroken by the deaths,” he added.

The violent episode Monday was one of the deadliest attacks on law enforcement in recent years.

In July 2016, five officers were killed in Texas after an armed sniper opened fire in downtown Dallas during a demonstration against fatal police shootings. Four Dallas police officers and one transit officer were killed. Police killed the shooter, Micah Johnson, 25, with an explosive sent by a remote-controlled robot.

That same month, three officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, were killed, and three others were wounded in what authorities described as an “ambush.” The gunman was killed during a shootout.

In February, two police officers and a paramedic were killed near Minneapolis when a man, who was barricaded in his home, opened fire on police. Officers returned fire, and the shooter was later reported dead.

This month, two police officers were killed outside a home near Syracuse, New York, during a shootout after they were following up on a traffic violation. The suspect also died in the shootout.

Jennings said that in his more than three decades with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, he couldn’t “imagine that there’s one that’s any worse than what we’re seeing today” in the Charlotte area.

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