Local News

Men charged in Sanford police shooting appear in court

Posted December 21, 2009 10:22 a.m. EST
Updated December 21, 2009 6:01 p.m. EST

— Two men charged in the shooting of a Sanford police officer early Sunday appeared in court for the first time Monday.

Breon Montrell Black, 21, of 2518 Dalrymple St. in Sanford, and Thomas Harold Mitchell II, 16, of 1800 Marks Road in Cameron, are charged in the shooting of Officer Scott Norton.

Police Capt. David Smith said Norton and his partner were watching four people they believe were acting suspiciously at the Thornwood Village mobile home park. When the officers tried to confront the men, one or two of the suspects opened fire, Smtih said.

Norton was shot at least four times – twice in the right leg, once in the left leg and once through his back. He was in fair condition at UNC Hospitals Monday.

In court Monday, Black waived his right to counsel, and Mitchell asked for a court-appointed attorney. He was assigned lawyer Fred Webb. Calls to Webb were not returned on Monday.

The judge kept Black's bond at $960,000 and Mitchell's at $860,000. He set a probable cause hearing for Jan. 13.

Black and Mitchell face two counts each of attempted first-degree murder and assault on a law enforcement officer with a firearm and one count each of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury and discharging a firearm into an occupied vehicle. They were being held in the Lee County Jail.

Authorities are searching for two more suspects in the shooting.

On Monday at Thornwood Village, police arrested a man who may be a witness or suspect in the shooting, Smith said. The man, whose name was not released, was arrested on a gun charge.

Norton is on the Sanford Police Department's SWAT team and has been with the force for 5 years. He is married and has children.

Black is on probation for a 2007 conviction for possession of drugs with intent to sell, according to state Department of Correction records. He also has convictions for larceny and driving with a revoked license.

Sanford police said they had increased patrols in the Thornwood Village neighborhood due to an increase in crime in the last week.

Sanford Mayor Pro Tem Mike Stone said the city has an issue with violent crime.

Over the summer, officers were investigating three shootings, including the death of a 17- year-old police say was shot by an 18-year-old, that happened in a matter of weeks.

"We have all these youth now with guns and it's scary," Stone said.

Stone said he wants the city council to work with law enforcement in exploring everything from the state's gun buy-back program to working more closely with school resource officers.