13-year-old killed in confrontation with Harnett deputy
Posted January 19, 2010 6:01 a.m. EST
Updated January 19, 2010 10:48 p.m. EST
Cameron, N.C. — A Harnett County deputy shot and killed a heavily armed 13-year-old boy early Tuesday in a confrontation outside a Cameron convenience store, authorities said Tuesday afternoon.
Cpl. S. Assman was shot in the leg during the incident. He was treated at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center and was recuperating at home, Sheriff Larry Rollins said.
The name of the teen wasn't released because he was a juvenile, but Rollins said he was an Overhills Middle School eighth-grader who lived with his parents in the Anderson Creek community.
Harnett County authorities initially said the shooting victim was a man, but Rollins said it wasn't until several hours after the incident that they determined he was 13 years old.
Assman and Sgt. T. Daggett were patrolling southwest Harnett County at about 2:25 a.m. when they observed someone sitting in a ditch in front of the Super Mart convenience store, at 1943 N.C. Highway 24/87, Rollins said.
The deputies asked the boy to show them what was in a book bag lying nearby, and they saw a 9 mm and a .22-caliber handgun inside, along with about 250 rounds of ammunition, Rollins said.
The 13-year-old then pulled another 9 mm handgun out and shot Assman in the leg, the sheriff said. Both deputies then returned fire, killing the boy, he said.
Rollins declined to say how many shots the boy fired, how many shots the deputies fired or how many times the boy was hit.
The State Bureau of Investigation was called to investigate, which is routine in an officer-involved shooting. Assman and Daggett have been placed on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the investigation.
Rollins defended his deputies' actions in the case but said it has been hard on them.
"He's a suspect, he was armed and he did (fire at them). You have to handle that situation," he said. "After the fact, when you have time to think about things, you know that it's a child – a 13-year-old is a child. It's like one of them said, 'Why? Why did he do it?'"
The boy's parents didn't know he was out of the house, the sheriff said. He declined to say whether they knew anything about the boy's weapons and ammunition.
Harnett County Schools Superintendent Phil Ferrell said automated phone calls were made Tuesday night to the families of all Overhills Middle students to inform them about the incident.
“It makes me really nervous because my kid goes there,” Darlene Folden, mother of an Overhills Middle eighth-grader, said. “You think the school is going to be safe because there is a cop there, but it is not always a guarantee.”
Overhills Middle custodian and bus driver Ricky Sulton, who drove by the shooting scene Tuesday, said he was surprised to hear a student was involved.
“I walk up and down these halls all day long, up and down, and you think somebody might have a gun up in here and you don't know who has got it. It's scary,” he said.
Grief counselors will be at the school Wednesday.
"We are deeply saddened anytime a student's life is cut short, especially in a tragic situation like this," Ferrell said.