Local News

Shot Police Officer In Stable Condition; Suspect To Make First Court Appearance Monday

Posted July 30, 2001

— Detective David Powell's condition is listed as stable Monday morning after being shot five times while working off-duty at a Raleigh sports bar early Sunday morning.

Police have charged 21-year-old Custodio Olea Ramirez with the shooting. Ramirez has been charged with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, inflicting serious injury, one count of assault with a deadly weapon, and possession of cocaine.

Raleigh police are working with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms on charges that could land Ramirez in federal court. If convicted of committing a violent crime with a gun, Ramirez would face a minumum of 15 years in federal prison.

Investigators say Powell was working his off-duty security job at the Top Rank Sports Bar when a Pontiac Grand Am pulled into the bar's parking lot just after midnight.

"Powell explained to him he couldn't park where he was parked at and was asking him to move his car, and the suspect became irritated that he had to move his car," said Capt. D.S. Overman of the Raleigh Police Department.

Investigators say Ramirez shot Powell in the abdomen, the back, both arms, and one hand.

Marvin Williams, a bystander, was hit in the ankle. He was treated at WakeMed's emergency room and released.

A second off-duty police officer fired at Ramirez but missed.

Police say Powell was dressed in plain clothes, but they have no doubt Ramirez knew he was a cop.

"Absolutely he knew. When you're working off-duty in plain clothes, which he was, you have to have your badge showing, and it was around his neck, so it would have been center chest," said Interim Chief of Police John Knox.

"It was somebody who had a problem obviously with a police officer, who was going to shoot. It could have been him or any number of guys who were in the wrong place at the wrong time," said Raleigh police officer Bill Norvell.

Witnesses outside the sports bar saw Ramirez drive away after the shooting. Police used the car to track Ramirez to an apartment on Dacien Road in Raleigh. It was not their first visit to the apartment.

"They had a call right before this stuff happened at the sports bar with the same guy," said neighbor Deborah Pulley.

Police were called to the Dacien Road address around 9:30 p.m. Saturday, three hours before Detective Powell was shot. Investigators say Ramirez fired a gun at his girlfriend. She was not hurt, but neighbors say Ramirez has been terrorizing them for weeks.

"He'd just shoot. He'd be drunk and he'd get out there and just shoot," said Pulley.

Police are still investigating the suspect's background. Investigators say Ramirez had a question for them before he was booked. "His biggest concern right now is he wanted to know how much time we thought he would get for what happened," said Overman.

Fellow officers describe Powell as a mild-mannered cop who was effective on the street and very good with people.

Powell, who was just promoted to drug and vice a month ago, has become known as a thorough and safe officer during his six years on the force, even wearing his bulletproof vest on his side job.

"He's glad they got the shooter. He's in good spirits. He's got his wife by his side, and that's a good thing for him," said Norvell.

Powell and his wife Rhonda, also a Raleigh police officer, will celebrate their first anniversary next weekend. She was also working an off-duty job at the time of the shooting and heard on a police scanner that an officer was down. She was able to get to her husband's side before the ambulance arrived and went to the hospital with him.

Four years ago this month, another Raleigh police officer was shot. But

Detective Paul Hale

did not survive. Like Hale, Powell had just been promoted to the drug and vice unit. Also like Hale, Powell was on his new job about a month at the time of his shooting.

"Knowing he'd just been a drug detective recently and a friend of ours four years ago was killed, same type of situation, it was hard to deal with. We didn't know how well he was. It kind of sent shivers up my spine," Norvell said.

Ramirez is scheduled to make his first court appearance Monday afternoon.

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