Local News

Cumberland woman charged with shooting officers says she thought gang members were trying to kill her

Posted August 7, 2020 6:24 p.m. EDT

— A woman charged with shooting two Spring Lake police officers in May said Friday that she didn't know they were officers.

The officers went to Sabera McNeil's home in the 600 block of Poe Avenue in the early hours of May 4 to serve attempted first-degree murder warrants on her and Malik Omar McDonald in connection with an April incident.

In an interview from the Cumberland County jail, where she is being held under $2.5 million bond, McNeil, 22, said she had been threatened by gangs two weeks earlier. So, when someone dressed like a pizza delivery man snatched her fiancé out the front door of her apartment, she opened fire.

Police said McNeil used an AK-47-style assault rifle and wounded two officers, shooting one in the arm and the other in the abdomen. Both officers recovered.

The officers returned fire, riddling the home with bullets and hitting her in the head.

"I need 911. They tricked us," McNeil told a 911 dispatcher during the shootout. "They shot us. My fiancé is outside. I got shot in the head. I need your help, please."

On Friday, she said she feared for her and McDonald's lives and shot in self-defense.

"I feel like they're going to kill him. I feel like, after they kill him, they're going to open the door and kill me. They're going to finish killing me," she said.

The officers never identified themselves as law enforcement when they came to the door, McNeil said.

"The only person [at the door] we knew at the time was a Domino's pizza man," she said.

McDonald, 24, who has been released on bond, backed up her story, saying the man at the door that night was wearing "the whole Domino's outfit, like the whole Domino's getup." The man was even carrying a pizza box, he said.

Spring Lake Police Chief said his officers weren't engaged in any such ruse.

"The officer was dressed in a bullet-proof vest with the word 'Police' on it," McDuffie said. "I'm not discounting their side of the story, but how much of a threat you would assume a pizza delivery guy would be so that you would retrieve an AK-47 and fire that these officers?"

The State Bureau of Investigation is reviewing the shooting.

McNeil said she was upset to learn she had shot a police officer and even apologized on her way to UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill after the shooting.

"I said, 'Sir, I'm sorry. If I don't live through this night, could you please tell the officer, can you please tell him I'm sorry and I hope he's OK,'" she said.

McNeil's family wants her bond lowered so she can get appropriate medical attention for the bullet fragments that are still in her head.

She and McDonald are due back in court on Aug. 18.

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