Local News

Second man arrested in NC trooper's shooting death

Posted October 23, 2018 9:48 a.m. EDT
Updated October 23, 2018 2:17 p.m. EDT

— A second man was arrested early Tuesday in the shooting death last week of State Highway Patrol Trooper Kevin Conner last week in Columbus County, authorities said.

Chauncy Askew, 18, of Chadbourn, was apprehended in Loris, S.C., following an extensive manhunt, Columbus County District Attorney Jon David said during a news conference. He was being held without bond in Conway, S.C., awaiting extradition to North Carolina, where he will be charged with first-degree murder, David said.

Chauncy Askew, trooper killing

Raheem Cole Dashanell Davis, 20, of Chadbourn, was arrested last Wednesday on a charge of first-degree murder and remains in the Columbus County jail.

"It is not unusual that you would have two suspects arrested for first-degree murder in connection with the same death," David said. "I'm not going to parse out liability today and say who did what. That is, in fact, the subject of investigations."

Conner was killed during a routine traffic stop early on Oct. 17, after pulling over a GMC pickup that was speeding on U.S. Highway 701 south of Whiteville, authorities said. As Conner approached the vehicle, someone inside fired multiple shots, hitting Conner in the face and the torso, authorities said.

The gunman, later identified as Davis, fled the scene.

Raheem Davis, trooper shooting

Conner, an 11-year veteran of the Highway Patrol and the father of two children, was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

Other troopers watched the shooting on the dashcam in Conner's patrol car to identify the suspect vehicle, which was later found in Fair Bluff, about 20 miles away, David said. When the pickup stalled on some railroad tracks, Davis jumped out and ran, and officers apprehended him about 4 a.m. in some woods near the tracks.

"Our evidence to date conclusively shows that there were two people in the truck at the time that Kevin Conner made that fateful stop, and both of them are now in custody," David said Tuesday.

He declined to say how long authorities have known about a second suspect, except to say that Askew's name "emerged early in the investigation," and why the public wasn't put on alert.

"We were very mindful of the fact that we had a violent and dangerous person on our streets, and I had a group of people working overtime to make sure that we brought him in, but not before we had enough evidence that we needed," he said.

"Our motivation is to make sure that we arrest somebody at such time that we actually have the evidence that we need to be effective," he added. "We balance that against informing the public, and I think we struck the appropriate balance."

David also declined to say whether investigators have found the gun used in the shooting.

Davis was on probation for a January 2017 conviction for firing a gun at a car in Chadbourn in June 2015, according to state Department of Public Safety records.

Askew was released from parole on Aug. 31 in connection with Cumberland County charges of identity theft and possession of a firearm, DPS records show.

No decision has been made on whether to seek the death penalty in the case, David said.

Hundreds of people, including dozens of law enforcement officers from around the state, gathered Sunday to pay their final respect to Conner during an outdoor funeral at South Columbus High School.