Local News

Two Die in Davidson Shootout

Posted December 26, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— A teenager and a police officer are dead after a Christmas Day shootout in the tiny Mecklenburg town of Davidson.

Officers Mark Swaney and Charles McLean responded to a disturbance call about gunshots heard on Mock Street near the Davidson College campus.

Late Thursday, residents had reported a teenager was carrying a gun in their neighborhood.

The teen was identified as Damon Kearns. A cousin said he was 17, but other relatives said he was 18 or 19.

Davidson Police Chief Hank McKeiran said, "An altercation developed between the suspect and another person. The officers intervened to break up the altercation at which time a suspect drew a weapon and fired on both my officers."

Residents confirmed that the officers ordered the teenager to drop the gun, and a struggle followed, winding up in a ditch.

Swaney, 26, killed the 16-year-old suspect but was shot himself and died an hour later.

McLean was also shot, and was reported in fair condition Friday morning.

An outside agency has been called in to investigate the shooting. Charlotte-Mecklenburg police will help with the investigation, and are also offering emotional support to the Davidson County officers.

Swaney is the fifth North Carolina law enforcement officer to be killed in the line of duty since July. On July 11, Detective Paul Hale of the Raleigh Police Department was gunned down. Just days later Chief Wayne Hathaway of the Sharpsburg Police Department was killed while responding to a domestic violence call. September 23, Trooper Ed Lowry and Cumberland County Sheriff's Deputy David Hathcock were shot to death along Interstate 95.