RALEIGH, N.C. — A week after a Lenoir County sheriff's deputy died in a shootout, a U.S. flag honoring him and fallen law enforcement officers across North Carolina flew Thursday at the state Capitol.
Detective Allen Pearson, 29, of LaGrange, died in a nighttime shooting in the woods, near the town of Grifton while responding to a 911 call.
The Honor Network, a Texas-based nonprofit group, contacted Pearson's family about flying the U.S. Flag of Honor in his memory. Pearson's family asked that it be flown at the Capitol to be a symbol for all law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty.
Thursday marks the first time the flag was flown in North Carolina. It originally flew over the Texas Capitol and over Ground Zero, the site of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York.
"It makes us reflective of how really dangerous the job is and how we take for granted the sacrifices that officers make every day," said Reuben Young, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Crime Control and Public Safety.
Pearson served with the sheriff's office for eight years and was a certified Basic Law Enforcement Training instructor at Lenoir Community College.
He and another Detective Ryan Dawson were part of a special-response team called to a wooded area off Tick Bite Road near Grifton on April 8. When they approached, a man later identified as Clarence Douglas Phillips began firing on them, according to witness reports.
The deputies returned fire. Dawson was injured; Pearson and Phillips, who later was identified as a suspect in his girlfriend's death, both died.
"Emotionally, it's still hard every day," Dawson said at a ceremony Thursday to recognize Pearson and others for their service. "He gave the ultimate sacrifice for the citizens of our county."
According to The Honor Network's Web site, the Texas House of Representatives entrusted a flag that had flown over the state Capitol to a Texas resident and Iraq war veteran.
Since then, the flag has continually been used to honor American heroes across the nation. Since September 2001, it has paid tribute to more than 1,000 people.