Political News

Police: 2 dead, 3 hurt, including 2 officers, in shootout

Posted August 9, 2015 3:25 p.m. EDT
Updated August 9, 2015 4:55 p.m. EDT

— A shoot-out in a small North Carolina town — sparked by a gunman's alleged killing of a neighbor — left the gunman dead and two police officers wounded, authorities said Sunday. A bystander was also hurt.

The injuries to the officers didn't appear to be life-threatening, Gaston County Assistant Police Chief Joseph Ramey said at a late-night news conference. A woman was also wounded in the incident, but she is expected to survive, Ramey said.

A number of officers rushed to the Balsam Court neighborhood around 9:30 p.m. Saturday after getting several 911 calls about a man shot to death and another man still in the area with a gun, the assistant chief said.

The suspected gunman, Jeffrey Clyde Wilkes, of 4908 Greenwood Dr. in Gastonia, was on a street corner armed with a pistol and a rifle and fired on officers. He was killed when several officers fired back, Ramey said.

The body of Charles Dean Thompson, who retired from the Gaston County Police Department in 1995 after five years' service, was found inside the home on Balsam Court where the original 911 call had been placed.  A second shooting victim, Debra Maness Childress, was located at a neighbor's home where she had fled after being shot by the suspect at the Balsam Court address, police said.. She was transported to Caromont Regional Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries.

Both Gaston County Police officers were transported to Caromont Regional Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries. One officer has been released from the hospital pending further medical procedures and the second officer, who underwent surgery Sunday, remains in the hospital.

The names of the officers were not been released. Police said Sunday afternoon that they would not release any more information about the case until Monday morning.

Gaston County Police are investigating the death of the neighbor, while the State Bureau of Investigation is investigating the police shooting. The officers involved have been put on administrative duty, authorities said.

A clerk at a nearby convenience store told The Gaston Gazette (http://bit.ly/1OYzNJL ) that she knew the two men killed and the woman wounded as regular customers. She said police swarmed the store and told people to stay inside, then she heard the gunfight.

"We heard about 10 to 15 rounds shot. It was wild, that's for sure," Moore told the newspaper. "Boom, boom, boom."

Ramey said news of his officers being shot was tough to hear.

"It's very disturbing when you have men and women that you're close to and you appreciate the hard work they do day in and day out and you hear they've been shot," he said.