Durham, N.C. — Authorities were searching early Tuesday for a gunman who they say opened fire on a North Carolina Highway Patrol trooper during a routine traffic stop in Durham Monday night.
The shooter began firing when Trooper Michael L. Potts got out of his patrol car on U.S. Highway 70 near Cheek Road about 6:15 p.m., Highway Patrol spokesman Sgt. Jeff Gordon said. He was described as a white man in his 20s, wearing a white T-shirt, with blond hair and short, military-style haircut.
After shooting Potts, the gunman took off in a black Nissan Altima with 30-day North Carolina tags, Gordon said, heading west on U.S. 70.
About three hours later, police found the car in the parking lot of a Mexican restaurant.
The employees of Los Comales, at 2103 N. Roxboro St., said they don't know how the car got there, but the restaurant owner said he turned over surveillance video of the parking lot to investigators.
It wasn't clear whether authorities believe the gunman is now on foot or if he fled in another vehicle.
Anyone who sees a man matching the description of the shooter should call *HP or 911 immediately.
"Anytime you have anybody that has a weapon and has shot an officer, that's always a danger to the public," Gordon said.
All westbound lanes of U.S. 70 at Cheek Road and parts of Interstate 85 were shut down for several hours while authorities were at the scene. U.S. 70 reopened around 11:30 p.m. Monday.
Potts, whose name was released Tuesday on the Troopers Association Facebook page, was taken to Duke University Hospital. He was in fair condition Tuesday morning, Gordon said.
Potts was surrounded by family and got a visit from Gov. Pat McCrory, who went straight to the hospital after his State of the State address.
Authorities did not release information about how many times Potts was shot, but the Troopers Association said in its post Tuesday that he was hit in the face, hand and shoulder.
The State Bureau of Investigation and law enforcement agencies from all over North Carolina are assisting in the search.