Local News

Shootout injures Durham vice-squad officer, suspect

Posted September 2, 2009
Updated September 3, 2009

— A vice-squad officer and a suspect were injured in a shootout outside a Cracker Barrel restaurant, 3703 Hillsborough Road, off Interstate 85, in Durham Wednesday evening, authorities said.

Gunfire erupted after the vice-squad officer tracked a couple of men to the restaurant's parking lot during a narcotics investigation at about 7:30 p.m., said Lt. Stan Harris, of the Durham County Sheriff's Office. Bullets struck vice-squad officer Morial S. Whitaker and suspect Olvin Alexander Aranda Hernandez, Harris said.

“One officer was struck in the foot,” Harris said.

Paramedics transported the victims to Duke University Hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.

Suspects in Durham shootout identified Suspects in Durham shootout identified

Dozens of people were eating inside the restaurant at the time. None were injured.

“It was just something you see somewhere else besides here,” witness Tim Durham said.

Durham said he was standing across the street from where the shooting took place.

“I just heard a bunch of gunfire ... Everybody was running and shooting.  It was crazy. It just happened so quick,” Durham said.

Hernandez, 24, of 1506 Bungalow Ave.; Victor Oscar Olguin-Bravo, 21, of 917 Virgie St.; and Richanel Sala Sala, 19, of 2816 Ross Road Apt. 10-G, were taken into custody and face drug trafficking charges. Authorities said they found 614 grams of cocaine on the men.

Hernandez is also expected to be charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, possession of a firearm by convicted felon, assault on a government official by firearm and armed in the terror of the public for firing a gun in the restaurant's parking lot. 

Second officer-involved shooting in 24-hours in Durham

The Cracker Barrel incident made the second shooting involving a Durham law enforcement officer in 24 hours. A Durham man exchanged gunfire with police Tuesday night at Dearborn Drive and Ader Street.

Elliott Josiah Pierce, 26, of Durham, was a passenger in a car pulled over by police just after 10:30 p.m., police said.

Police said Pierce got out of the car and fired several shots at officers. Officers returned fire, hitting him in the abdomen and leg. The officers were not injured.

Pierce was being treated for his injuries Wednesday at Duke University Hospital.

He faces charges of assault with a deadly weapon on a law enforcement officer and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill.

Police found the car, a Nissan Altima, abandoned a short distance away, but were still searching for the driver and a second passenger.

As is standard procedure when a law enforcement officer fires a weapon, the officers involved have been placed on administrative leave with pay and the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) will investigate.

Anyone with information on either incident is asked to call 919-560-4440, ext. 29350 or Crime Stoppers at 919-683-1200. Crime Stoppers pays cash rewards for information leading to arrests in felony cases and callers never have to identify themselves.


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • GETOUT Sep 3, 2009

    So sad that these officers are "monday morning quarterbacked". Trust me from experience whatever information the officers got whether it be from an informant or tip or whatever, these guys chose that for a reason. Alot of times criminals engaged in drug trafficking will select largely populated areas, because the feel as though they can blend in and will not be easily noticed transferring the money for the narcotics. Just like in some of the previous comments, law enforcement doesn't select the "drop" location, the only react to the criminal(s) decision. I commend these guys for standing up to what most would run from!

  • Thought Criminal WS Sep 3, 2009

    614 grams / 28 g = 21.93 ounces = 1.37 POUNDS.
    Thats a lot of anything to be carrying.

    Good job LEO!

  • Flying Zombie Sep 3, 2009

    I thought maybe someone was mad cause thy ran out of the fried okra.

    But why would the vice cop try to bust them at a Crack er Barrel?

  • Jack Flash Sep 3, 2009

    Too bad you couldn't let Eduardo's ridiculous comment remain ridiculous instead of giving it merit, pancake. Busting drug dealers has nothing to do with profiling, but assuming things about immigration status does.

    I understand where you're coming from, Durham_Citizen. This went down well, but after we're done high-fiving, let's review the film and see if it could have gone even better. I don't blame the police for the location, but if the next one in a similar location goes wrong, the support here will surely evaporate.

    “'It was just something you see somewhere else besides here,' witness Tim Durham said.
    From his last name one wouldn't have thought Mr. Durham was so new to Durham."
    Too funny! This deserved another LOL, 68.

  • Professor Sep 3, 2009

    "Why do minorities keep committing about 90% of the crime!!!"

    You really believe that, then you are in a fantasy land. All races committ crime of some sorts including murder.

  • Raptor06 Sep 3, 2009

    "Why do minorities keep committing about 90% of the crime!!!"

    This was about crime until the racial/cultural aspect was introduced. I don't care what color the accused is, but apparently you do. Minorities don't have a monopoly on crime, you know.

    Now, back to cops shooting bad guys...regardless of color. Just another reason why I support the Castle Doctrine.

  • itsnews2me Sep 3, 2009

    Silly criminals...don't they realize that the C racker Barrel crowd IS a gun-toting crowd?! They're just luckey its the cops who were shooting at them and not the customers!

  • timothycapwell Sep 3, 2009

    Shhhhh! Durham is a sanctuary city. Any discussion of immigration statuses is, well, mean!

  • prodigalrn Sep 3, 2009

    "more racism, profiling then shooting & arresting because of hispanic looks & surnames" - Eduardo

    So let me get this straight, you WANT someone with 614 grams of cocaine running around on the streets? When someone has THAT much cocaine on them, they are more than a low-level dealer. Those were some bad guys! I could care less what color/nationality/etc. these guys were, I'm glad the cops took them off the street. Oh, and the felon had a gun too, so I suppose you'd allow that too, just because they're Hispanic? Profiling? No way, the cops trailed them because of a tip or some other evidence. Either that or they were very lucky guessers. I prefer to think the cops obviously knew who they were after, and with good reason.

  • workingforthosethatwont Sep 3, 2009

    Durham citizen, you apparently watch too much TV. The officers have numerous things to consider in something like this. First, have you considered they might not have had a choice. Like others have said, many times the bad guy makes the decision. Many times it's the element of surprise the officers needed, you ever tried to sneak up on someone in an open parking lot with no one else around? Or in an open area of any kind? They see you coming a mile away and dispose of the evidence. Then the lawyers say..."I want this dismissed because they were not in possession of the drugs," weapons or whatever it is. Then of course the officers may have been waiting for the drug deal to take place. Then arrest everyone involved. Many things to consider here.
    Did you call the police the last time you saw somehthing happening or just keep going? Too busy?
    Convicted felon? Should have been deported long ago with a gps implant to track him.
    Good work DPD, I hope your injuries heal quickly.