Local News

Autopsy: Deputies shot teen three times

Posted May 28, 2010

— An Overhills Middle School eighth-grader was shot three times by Harnett County deputies during a fatal January altercation, according to an autopsy report released Friday.

Joseph Guy Wheeler, 13, was killed outside the Super Mart convenience store, at 1943 N.C. Highway 24/87 in Cameron, on Jan. 19.

Cpl. S. Assman and Sgt. T. Daggett of the Harnett County Sheriff's Office were on patrol when they observed Wheeler sitting in a ditch in front of the convenience store. The deputies asked the boy to show them what was in a book bag lying nearby, and they saw a 9 mm and a .22-caliber handgun inside, along with about 250 rounds of ammunition, authorities said.

Wheeler then pulled another 9 mm handgun out and shot Assman in the leg, authorities said. Both deputies then returned fire, killing the boy, he said.

The autopsy report states Wheeler was shot once each in the face, neck and abdomen.

Wheeler was dressed in a black shirt and leather jacket, camouflage pants, black boots and a black baseball cap, according to the autopsy report. He had a holster in the waistband of his pants and black leather gloves in his jacket pocket.

No drugs or alcohol were detected in his system, according to the autopsy report.

Investigators declined to comment about the teen's intentions or where he got the weapons and ammunition.

The State Bureau of Investigation was called in to investigate the case, which is routine in an officer-involved shooting. Assman and Daggett were placed on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the investigation.


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  • thepeopleschamp May 28, 2010

    Why the "suicide by cop" comments? To me it sounds more like trying to kill a cop and get away with it. Had it been a toy gun or an unloaded gun, maybe suicide by cop. But this guy was armed with multiple weapons and a stock pile of ammo and shot at the Deputies. It sounds to me he had bigger plans than to go out and get shot on purpose.

  • Jack Flash May 28, 2010

    3 things:
    1. The deputies did the right thing. You don't give an armed assailant the chance to correct his aim in his 2nd shot.
    2. Suicide by cop.
    3. This kid was 13. 13. A child. While his actions led to the expected results, let's not go so far as to say, "one crazy down" and "one less criminal to worry about." This is tragic. That someone could be so hopeless at 13 to pull a suicide by cop... there's nothing to be happy about here.

  • McLovin May 28, 2010

    Assman and Daggett...just like our real life Ace and Gary!

  • gunny462 May 28, 2010

    OMG greg.. Hmmm.. yea, I'm going to aim at your knee cap instead of center mass just in the hope that I miss and you can shoot at me again, yup thats what I'll do.

    Personally, I'm sry the kid had problems and found no one to help him except for suicide by cop.

  • OGE May 28, 2010

    I feel bad for the Deputy that got shot....even when considering is last name.

  • kikinc May 28, 2010

    gregosmi-I really hope that's sarcasm, because if it's not, that's one of the most baffling statements I've heard.

  • RPD07 May 28, 2010


    THANK YOU for a great laugh! That was a much needed stress relief for me.

    We all know what you really meant but let me translate your comment just incase someone thinks you were being serious:

    "LEO's carry mace and tasers for the times that a more serious use of force is needed than just hands on restraining, however it would be silly to use such items in a deadly encounter like this one here. I understand the criminal shot the officer in the leg but I'm sure his intentions were to kill due to the three handguns in his possession and the hundreds of rounds of ammo. I'm thankful that the criminal was not a good shot and did not kill this officer and that the officers were able to neutralize this threat to the community. THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE!"

    I think that is what you really meant, right?

  • kirkkorley May 28, 2010

    This kid was obviously armed to kill lots of people. Several guns, lots of ammo, and the police did what was necessary to minimize the damage he was about to do.

  • McLovin May 28, 2010

    why do LEO's carry mace and a taser. Just because he shot a man in the leg didn't justify this kind of reaction out of the Deputies. He didn't kill anyone he just shot them in the leg. They should have maced him and called his momma to come and get him and his guns.

    He was lying in a ditch Gregosmi. Your response is totally out of this earth. Deputities are allowed to return fire, like it was said before...its either kill or be killed...i feel for the deputy that actually pulled the trigger rather than the person who was killed...

  • foxxy84 May 28, 2010

    Quoting raggy... "I understand that the police had to shoot the young man BUT why did they not shoot him in the arm or leg? Why shoot to kill?"

    In a high stress situation your fine motor skills are minimal at best. Expecting an officer to be able to pinpoint an exact shot to shoot a gun out of a suspect's hand or something like that is impossible to ask.

    Officers are taught to shoot at center mess, the biggest target. In the end the officer does not have time to worry about who this kid is, what he's thinking, who is parents or siblings are... they must make the split second assessment that this person in front of them is armed & dangerous and shot one of the other officers. The boy in this case made the officers' decision for them... at the end of the day, that officer wants to go home to his family & loved ones; being nice or giving second chances could have been fatal for so many more - who knows where this kid was planning to go next with