Local News

Roanoke Rapids relieved officer will recover

Posted November 18, 2010 8:43 p.m. EST
Updated November 19, 2010 8:24 a.m. EST

— Employees and diners at Carini’s Italian Restaurant shared a sigh of relief Thursday on news that a frequent customer, Officer John Taylor, was expected to recover from gunshot wounds he suffered during a Wednesday afternoon traffic stop.

Chief of Police Jeff Hinton said Taylor stopped a green 1997 Geo Prism for following another vehicle too closely on Interstate 95 Wednesday at about 2:30 p.m. As he spoke to the female passenger, the male driver shot him, hitting him in the neck, upper torso and hand.

Hinton said Taylor's condition was stable after he underwent surgery at Pitt County Memorial Hospital in Greenville.

"Obviously, it's a sigh of relief for us and our officers and also the public," Hinton said.

"I was sad and at the same time I was praying that he would be fine," said Gricelda Richardson, a family friend who works at Carini's. She said Taylor, his wife and son were frequent customers at the restaurant, at 948 Roanoke Ave., about a block from police headquarters.

The incident hit especially close to home for her.

"My husband works for the Highway Patrol, and that could have been him," she said. "I was just hoping that he was going to be fine."

The Police Benevolent Association has set up a fund to help Taylor's family. Donations to the "Officer John Taylor Fund" can be made at any BB&T branch. You can also text "COPS Taylor" to 85944, and a $10 donation will be added to your cell phone bill.

Faye Byrum, who lives near the Taylors, said, "I started praying for him, because I know he's got a small child and all. I just hoped and prayed they caught them before they did anymore damage to anyone else."

One suspect in custody, one an apparent suicide

After a search that lasted through the night and involved more than 100 law enforcement officers, two suspects were identified.

Renee Michelle Phillips, 43, also of Southampton, Penn., was found in some bushes near a home on Three Bridges Road before noon Thursday. She was being held without bond at the Halifax County jail on charges of possession of a stolen vehicle, possession of a stolen firearm and accessory after the fact of attempted murder. She was scheduled to appear in court Friday at 11 a.m.

Michael Eugene Edgerton, 38, of Southampton, Penn., was found dead in a wooded area nearby a few hours later. A preliminary investigation found that he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Pennsylvania court records show that Phillips was charged in August with property theft and unauthorized used of a motor vehicle.

"This incident has come to a close, as far as somebody being out and the public (being) in danger," Hinton said. "We feel like we've brought safety back to our neighborhood here in Roanoke Rapids and Halifax County."