Local News

'A very scary moment': Longtime girlfriend of alleged downtown Raleigh gunman speaks out

Posted October 7, 2020 6:33 p.m. EDT
Updated October 7, 2020 7:36 p.m. EDT

Willie Hayes Jr. is facing nine felony charges, including attempted murder and kidnapping, after reportedly shooting in the direction of the Wake County Public Safety Center.

Hayes' girlfriend said he told her to drive him to the courthouse on Tuesday. She said the two had been arguing over the weekend and were in the process of splitting up after 14 years together.

"I think he thought at that point, that he thought his life was over if we were splitting up," she told WRAL News. The woman asked not to be identified.

Hayes was accused of shooting from a car driven by his girlfriend. She said as she drove, she pleaded with him to calm down.

"I was scared. I screamed, 'Don't do it. Please don't do it. Don't do it, don't do it," she recounted.

Although witnesses reported hearing at least a dozen shots, the only person injured was a deputy hit by flying glass.

On Tuesday, Hayes' girlfriend went to the house they lived in together to get clothes. That was when Hayes called and texted her. She said she "foolishly came back" to drive him to a friend’s house near Store Road in Raleigh.

When they got to the house, Hayes pulled a gun on her and told her to "drive to the courthouse."

She said she didn't know he had a gun when the trip began but thought he might have one because her gun was missing from a closet in their home. She added that the gun went missing after they began arguing last weekend.

"I purchased that gun to protect my kids and my house; not for this," she added.

Boarded up windows and evidence markers show where bullets hit the Wake County Public Safety Center.

Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker said 15 people were standing outside with several more in the lobby when at least 10 shots were fired.

"He wouldn't listen to me. I couldn't get through to him," she said.

She said the couple has had a lot of arguments over the past 14 years.

"We've had fights and argue, but not physical hurting. We've shoved and pushed," she explained.

Two years ago, Hayes reportedly stopped drinking, but this past weekend he had started drinking again, the woman said.

Hayes' girlfriend said she feels a sense of responsibility but wanted the community to know that she did all she could to stop the shooting.

"Something happened, and he just lost it, a very scary moment," she added.

After the shooting in downtown Raleigh, the two arrived back to a house on Rose Street in Cary. Hayes went back inside the house and his girlfriend drove to the police station.

Hayes was taken into custody around 4 p.m. on Tuesday. He was given a $2,050,000 million bond.

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