Local News

Man dead, woman in custody 24 hours after cop was shot

Posted November 18, 2010

— A man suspected of shooting a Roanoke Rapids police officer killed himself late Thursday morning, while a female suspect was taken into custody, police Chief Jeff Hinton said.

Michael Eugene Edgerton, 38, of Southampton, Penn., was found dead in a wooded area around Three Bridges Road, near Halifax Academy where the suspects ditched their car after the shooting Wednesday afternoon, Hinton said. A preliminary investigation found that he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Officers never fired their weapons, Hinton said.

Neighbor key to woman's arrest 

A man who lives across the street from Halifax Academy, on Three Bridges Road, said he looked out his back door around 9 a.m. Thursday and spotted a woman cutting through his yard. The homeowner, who declined to give his name, described the woman as looking "cold and nervous." When he asked what she was doing in his yard, she said, "Just cutting through, sir," and she disappeared into the bushes.

"My instincts told me that's who they were looking for," he said.

The man said he then crossed the street and alerted officers that they might want to search his yard. He said officers with their weapons drawn and search dogs surrounded the woman until she emerged from the bushes.

Renee Michelle Phillips, 43, of Southampton, Penn., was charged Thursday afternoon with possession of a stolen vehicle, possession of a stolen firearm and accessory after the fact of attempted murder. She was being held without bond at the Halifax County jail and will have a first court appearance Friday at 11 a.m.

Pennsylvania court records show that Phillips was charged in August with property theft and unauthorized used of a motor vehicle.

neighbor who spotted Halifax County shooting suspects Web only: Neighbor spots shooting suspect in his yard

"It's very possible that she could have been there all night," the homeowner said.

The resident said he was still outside when another shot rang out.

"I heard one gun shot, that's all I heard," he said.

Officers ushered him from his home to a safer location until they found Edgerton, dead.

Chief: Danger has passed

Halifax Academy administrators canceled classes at the school Thursday, after the suspects' car was found abandoned there shortly after the shooting a day earlier.

"This incident has come to a close, as far as somebody being out and the public (being) in danger," Hinton said. "We feel like we've brought safety back to our neighborhood here in Roanoke Rapids and Halifax County."

Officer John Taylor was shot in the neck, upper torso and hand during a traffic stop on Interstate 95 at 2:24 p.m. Wednesday. Hinton said Thursday that Taylor's condition was stable after he underwent surgery at Pitt County Memorial Hospital in Greenville and that all hopes are that he'll make a full recovery.

Taylor, 31, has a wife and a young son. Hinton said Taylor had been on the force for five years and also has four years' experience with another department.

The Police Benevolent Association has set up a fund to help Taylor's family. Donations to the "Officer John Taylor Fund" can be made at any BB&T branch. You can also text "COPS Taylor" to 85944, and a $10 donation will be added to your cell phone bill.

Search lasted all night

The chain of events began when Taylor stopped a green 1997 Geo Prism for following another vehicle too closely on I-95, authorities said. He began talking to the female passenger, and within a few seconds, the male driver pulled out a gun and fired.

Taylor was wearing a bulletproof vest and stood away from the car, so his whole body wasn't presented to the occupants, the police chief said.

"He is one of my more safety-conscious officers," Hinton said. "Sometimes, I guess you could say, it's a perfect storm that comes together. It happened so fast."

Renee Michelle Phillips Roanoke Rapids relieved to have shooting solved

Passing motorists stopped to help Taylor, and he was able to call in for help. After the shooting, police determined that the Prism had been reported stolen in Pennsylvania.

The man and woman fled south on I-95, then abandoned the Geo Prism in the parking lot of Halifax Academy. The school went into lockdown while the search began.

Police believe that the suspects ran to a wooded area about 100 yards from the school and stayed there overnight.

About 100 officers from local, state and federal agencies searched overnight in an 8- to 9-square-mile area for the man and woman.

Authorities set up road checkpoints and looked in the trunks of cars, the beds of pickup trucks and the backs of tractor-trailers. They flew helicopters with heat-seeking, infrared cameras, searched with K-9 units and knocked on doors. Signs warned motorists on I-95 not to pick up hitchhikers.

Investigators also worked closely with Pennsylvania authorities, Hinton said.


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  • clickhere Nov 19, 2010

    no, I never said it was a police cover-up, you read that into it. That's why you're getting this reaction. I said - looks like there's a discrepancy, you attacked me without anything being said about a police cover-up. all I said was someone needs to clarify. you say the cops are always right and everyone who doesn't agree with the cops is pointing to a conspiracy. you're the one using these words. there's nothing in what I said that accuses anyone of a conspiracy. all I said was why say one minute that multiple shots were fired and the next minute say there was only one. that's all I said, you made up the rest. on the second point I made about finding the man within a hundred yards of the car where the search started, don't you find it a bit strange that k-9 and 100 officers couldn't find him that close to the car and some neighbor had to point out the woman. no conspiracy, just pointing out questions that ought to be answered.

  • meBNme Nov 19, 2010

    Right, there were no clarifications, just a different report.

    Yet somehow you automaticallly assumed it was a police coverup, and the cops lied.
    You dont even KNOW who made the statment, you just know that it was written in the news report.

    I was not saying what happend. I was pointing out that with the info given, many things could have happened including the complete opposite of wht you claimed, and made an example with my statement.

    My whole comment was saying there is not enough info to make an accurate assumption, so whay would you accuse the police of a cover up when it could have been anything, including a simple clerical arror?

    What, people cant question your assumptions?
    Should we blindly accept yopur conspiracy theory?

  • clickhere Nov 19, 2010

    meBNme - you didn't shine any light, you were blindly accepting a total reversion of statement and telling me I had no basis in fact and that I should blindly accept whatever is told me by a LEO, and you. Like I said in further comments, there are 2 issues here and it would be clarifying to get a couple answers.

  • meBNme Nov 19, 2010

    "looks like the rest of us need to pack up and go home . . meBNme has the floor in his own mind and no one else is entitled to an opinion.

    Nowhere did I suggest anyone could not voice their opinion.
    I did insinuate that folks should get facts straight or consider obviouse options before automatically claiming a conspiracy and making up ways to blame cops.

    So, tell me, do I not also have a right to my opinion, and to post it on these boards? Are you trying to suppress any opposing view, or my voice simply because I shined some light on the absurdity of some of the comments here?

    Or do you simply have no argument in the face of logic and resort to false accusations all while doing yourself what you accuse others of?

  • SmileAndNod Nov 19, 2010

    Ya'll thought the perps were Black didn't ya? Go ahead...admit it! LOL

  • wildcat Nov 19, 2010

    Glad they caught him even though the man committed suicide. What is the update on the officer?

  • kel2011 Nov 19, 2010

    well im glad they caught them

  • clickhere Nov 18, 2010

    leo-nc, we're talking 2 separate groups, sorry for the confusion. The State of NC enforces all sorts of very strange laws, probably because the legislature passed them - the enforcement is not just thru SHP. I think it's great the SHP were out looking for this guy who shot a cop. 2 things I find awkward. 1) they found the guy within 100 yards of the car several hours after the search started and 2) initially it was reported shots were exchanged and then the report was changed to say only one shot was heard. Fine, but why no explanantion? Both seem strange and need explanations.

  • peaceout Nov 18, 2010

    good work LEO's!!! Praying for a speedy recover for Officer Taylor!!!

  • leo-nc Nov 18, 2010

    "Talk about a police state . . . I'm all for local law enforcement, but the State has a ways to go."-----clickhere

    The majority of officers out there were SHP or other state agency... so you don't want them out there trying to get the guys who shot that cop? I'm thinking you have some learning to catch up on. ;)