Local News

911 calls released but questions remain in fatal shootout

Posted August 1, 2014 1:26 p.m. EDT
Updated August 1, 2014 6:51 p.m. EDT

— Recordings of 911 calls released Friday are shedding more light on the circumstances leading up to a shooting near Hope Mills in which a grandfather and his 10-year-old grandson were killed in what authorities have described as a barrage of gunfire into their home.

But why Andrew Jay Michealis went on a rampage Wednesday morning is a question to which family members are still seeking answers.

Gary Frank Simpson, 61, and Trekwan Covington were two of seven people inside 5109 New Moon Drive when, authorities say, Michaealis fired more than 60 rounds from an AR-15 into the home, striking Simpson in the living room and Covington in a hallway.

A deputy was seriously wounded and several others suffered minor wounds before Michealis, 41, was killed during a shootout with Cumberland County sheriff's deputies.

The 911 recordings indicate Michealis had been arguing with his estranged wife, Valerie Michealis, at his home on Bramblegate Drive around 7 a.m. and that he put a gun to her head and tried to stab her.

"I took a self-defense class and got the rifle away from him, and then he pulled his knife out and tried to choke me," Valerie Michealis said in one of the 911 calls, which was made about 30 minutes after the attack. "He put the knife to my throat and to my head as I was fighting and trying to get the knife from him. He was trying to tie my arms together."

By the time of the 911 call, Valerie Michealis had managed to escape with the couple's 13-year-old son to her father's house about 4 miles away.

She said Friday that she isn't sure what prompted the rampage and couldn't say whether her learning a week ago that Andrew Michealis had a second wife might have been a factor.

"That would help me if I knew, but I don't," she said. "We were separating, but we were cordial, and if that was the reason, then he didn't talk about it."

Although she's shaken by what happened, she said she still loves her husband.

"We all love him. One day of, I guess, snapping is not going to erase 16 years of him being a wonderful father, a wonderful husband, a wonderful friend," she said. "Everyone still loves him."

Andrew Michealis' other wife in Michigan, Tabitha Michealis, said they married in 1996 and remained legally married after they lost touch. She found him in January, she said, and was willing to give him a divorce.

She doesn't understand what might have provoked him either.

"(He was never violent. We never had altercations as to where anybody was pushed or shoved. This is all new to me," she said."

No other family members in the home were injured in Wednesday's shooting, but Deputy Joshua LaFave, who had been tending to the two victims, was shot in the chest, back and shoulder.

Other deputies pursued Andrew Michaelis through a wooded area into a nearby neighborhood, where he continued to exchange gunfire with them.

Cumberland County Sheriff Earl “Moose” Butler said Andrew Michaelis died of a gunshot wound and that authorities are waiting to determine if he was shot and killed or if the wound was self-inflicted.

LaFave, 25, was in serious but stable condition Thursday at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center.

The funerals for Simpson and Covington are planned for 2 p.m. Aug. 8 at World Faith Clinic Church, 2250 Chicken Foot Road, Hope Mills.

Andrew Michealis' funeral arrangements are still pending as legal concerns have arisen over who gets control of his body once it's released from the medical examiner.

"I want everything. I want control, his body. Everything," Tabitha Michealis said. "I'm his wife, and I feel like, if she cared for him that this situation – I don’t think – would have escalated to what it did."