BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Law enforcement is finally releasing details about a shooting Friday night at a DWI checkpoint in Leland.
Today the Brunswick County Sheriff described what happened that left two men injured and facing charges and seven deputies from two counties under investigation.
The SBI is investigating the shooting as the agencies involved conduct their own internal reviews.
Jerry Onasis Melvin is behind bars while Antoine Levar Graham is recovering in the hospital after deputies shot him several times Friday night.
Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram says the suspects in a Lincoln Navigator came speeding toward deputies running the DWI checkpoint a little before midnight.
Ingram says the deputies feared for their lives.
“The officers at the scene perceived their lives to be in danger or the lives of their fellow officers to be in danger,” Ingram said.
Four deputies from the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office and three from New Hanover County opened fire to try to stop the car.
“The vehicle proceeded through the median and into the northbound lane of 17,” Ingram said.
That’s when Sheriff Ingram says one of the suspects jumped out of the car. The chase continued on to US 74/76 toward Wilmington.
“They certainly didn’t want it to get into the City of Wilmington and possibly kill people with the crowds being what it is at that time,” Ingram said.
Next deputies rammed the SUV and spun it around. A Brunswick County deputy approached the vehicle, and fired more shots.
“They were shooting to stop the threat against them,” Ingram said.
The four deputies from Brunswick County are assigned to administrative duties while the SBI investigates. The three New Hanover County deputies have been placed on administrative leave with pay.
There was a bullet hole in a New Hanover County patrol car, but Ingram says he cannot confirm at this time if the suspects were firing back at deputies.
Melvin and Graham face several charges, including assault with a deadly weapon.