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BOILING SPRING LAKES, NC (WWAY) — Boiling Spring Lakes Police say an internal review has cleared Ofc. John Thomas of any wrongdoing in Sunday’s incident that ended with a teen dead. The Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office says Dep. Samantha Lewis, who also responded, has been cleared following its internal review.

Meanwhile new information reveals the police officer who reportedly pulled the trigger was only on the scene for 70 seconds before shooting and killing Keith Vidal, 18.

“Could you send an officer over here. We have a son that has schizophrenia, and he’s not doing very good,” Mark Wilsey told a 911 operator Sunday.

Wilsey, Vidal’s father, called police Sunday afternoon for help with his son.

“He wants to fight his mother. He’s got a screwdriver,” Wilsey told the operator. “She’s scared to death of him.”

The event report shows the first Boiling Spring Lakes Police officer arrived at 1130 President Road at 12:34 p.m. followed by two more BSL officers and a Brunswick County Sheriff’s deputy. They reported a confrontation in the hallway but said everything was OK.

Records show Unit 104 from Southport arrived on scene at 12:48 p.m. Just 70 seconds later reports of shots fired come across emergency radio.

“I just heard gunshots,” someone reported.

Nearly two minutes passed before Unit 104 reported to dispatch defending his actions.

“I don’t know if you’ve been advised or not, but shots were fired,” the officer said. “I’ve had to defend myself against the subject.”

Seconds later the radio calls show that Vidal was taken into custody and being checked out by EMS.

Meanwhile an officer at the scene told dispatch, “We’re having problems with the family. They witnessed the shooting.”

Southport Police say Bryon Vassey is on paid administrative leave following the shooting. We went to his home today to try and speak with him. No one answered the door, but Boiling Spring Lakes Police arrived and asked us to leave.

Late this afternoon the attorney representing Thomas, who was cleared by the internal review, issued a statement. It said in part that Thomas and other responding officers followed the laws about using force.

The SBI continues to investigate.

Comment on this Story

  • Guest2020

    This has nothing to do with black and white. This has to do with circumstances. The incidents in Wilmington involved criminals who were refusing to respond to officer’s commands to stand down. Those officers had cause to believe that their lives could be in danger. In this case, the situation was under control, according to the reports the first two officers sent to dispatch. In this case, the dead kid was being held down by two other officers when the third one shot him. The circumstances are completely different.

  • guest8675309

    one the highest crime cities in the state, you are intelligent!

  • guest8675309

    I don’t believe the young white man had a gun and had been robbing businesses by threatening to shoot innocent victims if they did not comply. Nice try though!

  • Tracie C

    Let me just make sure I have this straight: you are comparing armed robbers holding up a restaurant and another guy who shot at a cop in broad daylight in the middle of a neighborhood to an emotionally challenged 18 year old in his house with a screw driver? Now if that isn’t a hidden racist agenda I don’t know what is.
    I ask you: who, exactly, is showing their “true colors” here??

  • Beach Bum

    All you naysayers, who have already predetermined the outcome from your extensive experience in law enforcement from watching Cops and the real stories of the Highway patrol, going to apologize, to the officer, when the officer is exonerated of any criminal culpability?

    What about you WWAY? Going shoot some video in favor of cops protecting and serving?

    Yeah, I didn’t think so.

  • jj

    You are right you are not a cop and never been in on something like this. The mentally ill is the most dangerous ones you can encounter. You do not know what is coming through their mind and one second they can act normal and the next they can cut your throat.

    People, I am sure only 50% will like the outcome of any investigation. However, you need to stop the putdowns on the parents and the Cops. The Cops would not have been there if the parents didn’t feel their life’s were in danger. Don’t think that someone will not go from being calm too dangerous in a matter of seconds.

    Yes, I have been there and seen it and it can happen with people that are normal and you think you can trust.

  • Deb

    Thank you and well said.

  • nc tax payer

    its a cover up. we never get the real story

  • jj

    I don’t think you are a Cop, because if you were you would know that what the news is reporting is not 100% true. If the kids was down with two officers on him do you think the other cop would have taken a shot? Remember the kid was only 90 pounds and two people on him, what would be the target?

    Also, if you were a cop you would know how dangerous mentally ill person can be and you would wait till the investigation was over to make your remarks. It has already been shown the father has changed his story a couple of times.

  • GuestUSMC

    I tend to agree with you to a degree. Police used to be a lot more professional than they are now. There are too many hot-heads and power-hungry individuals wearing a uniform. But in all fairness, the world has changed a lot over the years and they must deal with a lot more than before. There are still some good ones. Kinda hard to group them all together. The ones that were cleared were the officers that arrived before the shooter and tried to control the situation. I don’t know why Southport was called in, as the BSL police and BCSD could have handled it.

  • In case you haven’t put 2 and 2 together yet, the apparent shooting officer lives in BSL. He has a Southport address that is in BSL.
    The article doesn’t say if he was on duty or not at the time of the shooting. Maybe he was on the way home from work when he heard of the incident and didn’t have time for that, in which case he should have continued home and not stopped in to shoot the ‘victim.’
    He lives just north of the lake off 87.

  • Jen

    The internal investigation isnt over, theyre not saying that the cop that pulled the trigger is cleared, the 2 other officers from different agencies were cleared. The family even stated that the BSL and BCSO did nothing wrong, they had him calm before the Southport cop came in guns blazing. Since he is on administrative PAID leave right now, I hope they make him pay back this money once hes found guilty and let go. But that wont happen. Either way a kid is dead, a family devastated, 2 innocent cops names dragged through the mud and a dirty cop still walking the streets! Its a tragedy!

  • Dave

    Plain an simple two cops who helped Keith are cleared now they need to stand up against the rogue vigilante that took this child out in his prime. The facts are simple read all the web sites and spread the word that this will not be tolerated any longer. This family did not deserve to watch their child be murdered by this police officer. On top of that the audio of the police officer reporting the shooting lied and the facts are the originating two officers had Keith detained on the floor and in control, that is when the third officer shot and killed him. The officer that reported in the shooting claims he was in harms way,, HE WAS NOT…….

  • guest 12

    Ok people re read the article and if you have to read it again please do so. You are reading between the lines. The 2 officers that were cleared has nothing to do with the shooting they had it under control till thr Southport officer arrived and things went horribly wrong. My thing is that wect had people posting up that they should take out police officers and there families Im sure the parents of Keith would not want this to happen.

  • marg

    from what i have watched & read, the family called the police for assistance so they could get him to the hospital to adjust his meds. police had been to the residence before & knew the young man. the one that pulled the trigger, the southport cop, wasn’t even in his jurisdiction & from what all of the police blotter states, he wasn’t even there long enough to make an educated guess as to whether he should fire shots or not. from my understanding, he walked in & shot a 90 pound boy, who yes, had just turned 18 in december, legally an adult, and killed him at point blank range. i do not feel any pity for the officer, who saw fit to shoot this young man, in front of his parents, in his own home no less, in less than 2 minutes time. no one radioed in for back up, or ever said that keith (victim) was putting them in danger, other than the initial 911 call (he had a screwdriver & his mother was scared to death). never once did anyone actually say that he threatened ANYONE with any physical violence, threats or even self harm. i do feel sorry for the officer’s family for what they may be dealing with, but they didn’t pull the trigger. i am not saying that everyone in law enforcement in this county is bad, but there are several bad cops that make bad judgements & give the entire branch a bad name.

    and just to enlighten you, all because someone is mentally ill & may exhibit signs of being intoxicated, does not mean that they are high or on drugs.

    my heart & thoughts go out to the vidal/wilsey family. i am sure they had NO EARTHLY IDEA that calling the police dept for assistance would result in the death of their child.

  • paul

    he was tazed and the 2 officers had him down and the other officer shot him while the other two had him down

  • mark carpenter

    What makes me sick is this choice making process has become justified in every city in the nation.

  • Jason

    I have to agree with you. I only hope the Police Chief in Boiling Springs trusted his Internal Affair Officer/Detective who made the final report. Usually, during an IA investigation within a Police Department, you have to interview all the witnesses, get statements, record those involved and then submit a “thorough” report to the Chief. It amazes me that this all occurred within not only three days since Sunday, and only 2 working days later. Trying to get all the witness’ together, the family, the Officers involved in a mere two days is amazing to me. It would had been better off if the Chief had waited for the SBI to submit their final investigative report. That’s why the DA’s have mandated that all Law Enforcement Involved Shootings should be investigated by an outside agency. No matter what comes out of this, all that were involved in this situation, will effect them for the rest of their lives. My condolences go out to the family, and to all that were involved in this tragic situation.

  • James W

    Are you saying that if someone was trying to kill you or seriously injure you, that you would sit back and let that happen? Just trying to figure this out.

  • Foxy

    Best comment I heard yet…..

  • Someone who can read

    READ THE FULL STORY! Two of the THREE officers involved were cleared, the BSL officer and the Brunswick Co sheriff deputy, both of whom were PRAISED by the family for how they were trying to help Keith Vidal. The Southport police officer who died the shot has not been cleared.

    Not everything is a conspiracy, people.

  • Kandice

    Yes we need police to protect us, & no many times they do not get the respect they deserve, but we do not need someone who would within 70 seconds of arrival on the scene, decide it is justified to kill a mentally ill, 100lb. person who has been restrained by two adults, & subdued with a stun gun! The heartless JACKASS who wrote the above piece, I pray to God is not in possession of a gun or a badge. It is sad & disgusting that anyone could be that lacking in judgment.

  • Robert T. Willis

    the Southport officer was there because the BSL officers had called for backup!
    There are mutual aid agreements between municipality’s
    so technically, yes he had

  • Cindi Dulin

    I agree with you 100% your a wise police officer. Thanks so much for being an honest and compassionate human. May God Bless you & keep you safe. Thanks for your service protecting the public where you serve! Your family should be proud of you! Bless you, Cindi

  • rgm

    Go back to other shooting where multiple officers have been involved. You have no idea how many shootings involve more than one officer shooting at same time nor do you know the training these officers go through to protect themselves and you. They don’t get up think of I can’t wait to kill someone so I can remember that the rest of my life. Let someone come after you with some type of blunt weapon. If this was such a tiny screwdriver why in the world did mom even call. Any real dad can surely take down as you call it a tiny little 90 lb boy. Let me tell you this you try to restrain a 90 to 100 lb person that has mental issues and see what happens. Their strength is unbelievable why do you think mom has looked into mental resources for her son. Please try to live in this redneck no law abiding county without law enforcement and see what you end up with. A bunch of drunks, drug addits, drug dealers and whatever else they can get away with that is illegal because over half the people in this county have no respect for any kind of authority. You can tell that by the comments being made. The officers that are not responsible have no reason to lie. It is also pretty standard procedure when an officer is involved in a shooting he is placed on leave with pay and you can bet he is not having a vacation as someone put it. Law Enforcement officers are human beings just like everyone else and no matter what you think they have feelings and deal with the low of low most times. Nobody gets up first thing wanting to hurt someone especially a child young adult or any human being. Try letting someone run to you with knife or screwdriver see what your reaction time is. They can stab you quicker than you can pull your gun if you let seconds pass. This is a kid that mom couldn’t control so who does she call the good old boys in blue and who are you going to call when someone breaks in your house holds gun to your head rapes your wife steals your belongs. Bet it won’t be your best friend, fire department, your doctor, oh no its going to be the ones that have been train to deal with explosive situations just like the parents of this kid did. They called the police. They made the decision that they could not control him. Don’t expect to call the police and get warm and fuzzies. If you want that call his mother who probably has taken up for him all his life because he has a special problem and can’t mentally deal with things so he just get a little explosive now and then. If it was a bad shooting the officer will be charged if he was justified he will be cleared. Lets see what comes back in this poor little 90lbs system if the parents will release that before it goes to court. Case of scizo off his medication!! Seen it many times.

  • guest 1441965

    Then how do you explain the comment. I do not have time for this and BAMMMMM. You are so wrong.

  • Justice123

    First off let me express my sympathies to the family of the teen that was shot down in cold murder. This should have never led to the death of someone because the officer was “aggravated with the situation”. This story is now national news as Huffington Post is reporting on it.

    Second, lets go back several months ago where Wilmington, NC officers shot 4 black men and killed three. Two in front of the pizza hut after a robbery and one after a car chase after the suspect had wounded a police officer in the leg days before at a traffic stop. Why is it when a young white man is shot by the police, Wilmington and surrounding areas cry JUSTICE for his wrongful death but when three black men are shot down then its “good riddance, police doing their jobs, thugs deserved to die”.

    The young white man had a weapon just as the black men did here in Wilmington but yet no outrage or hateful slurs against him or his family. The black men had weapons but those thugs deserved to die.

    Wilmington, you are showing your true colors.

  • haggler

    The cops have already circled their wagons to protect their “brothers”, and we’ll never find out what really happened. As soon as the cop radioed in with, “I’ve had to defend myself against the subject”, you know the fix was in. TWO MINUTES after the shooting, he was already creating a record of his “innocence.” How cold is that? A lot colder than the kid he killed.

    And when has an “internal review” EVER been completed in THREE DAYS? Answer: when it’s a complete sham. By cops, for cops.

    Our cops are increasingly militarized and hyped up on their own authority and the power of their badge. For the first time in my life, I’m afraid of them.

  • Appalled

    Appalling. I do hope the SBI intends to thoroughly investigate and is not swayed by the “blue code of silence”.

    I’m sure this good officer has his bigotry against the mentally ill, and was completely untrained to properly deal with such, and therefore needs much more than a “paid vacation”. He needs to find new training and employment altogether, perhaps scrubbing pots at Butner Federal Correctional Complex near Raleigh.

  • Bryon Chandler

    Please note the officers that have been cleared are not the ones who allegedly shot this poor child. And paid leave is standard policy. Nothing can convince me he deserved to die, but you have to eliminate the innocent participants before you can get to the guilty.


    I believe the US Justice Department needs to be notified and this officer needs to be investigated and prosecuted. my heart goes out to the family may their son rest in peace. and hopefully justice will be served. since moving to Wilmington 7 months ago I have found that the police here are out of control. I’m appalled at their day-to-day activities. I’m not saying they’re all bad apples but they do need to weed out quite a few they’re supposed to be here to protect and serve I’d like to see that take place. oh and by the way I won’t be calling one .

  • Sherry Stanley

    Apparently there is more to this story ?
    Teen – screw driver – 90 lbs. shot and killed ?
    Uh, what ever happened to ” apprehending the suspect “…or ” tazing”
    or ” pepper spray”..what, who ? Come on, is this a 30 mins. police show we’re watching..No, it wasn’t 30 mins…Come on people..This can’t be the whole story.

  • Guest Timekeeper

    I assume Vassey called BSLPD when reporters tried to interview him. Don’t know why he couldn’t have opened the door and told you he had no comment, then if you didn’t leave, call them. Guess he’s running scared. BSLPD would do well to distance themselves from him until this is resolved.

  • Reader

    The officers that have been cleared are not the officer who is on paid leave. Which indicates they are not the ones who were involved in the shooting. Even if there was wrong doing, everyone can’t pull the same trigger. Please read before you react.

  • rgm

    Well to begin with if the family could control their wonderful well behaved son then they would not have called law enforcement to their home. To begin with law enforcement’s job is not to talk to some crazy kid that’s parent can’t control. Their job is to make sure the public is safe and citizen and themselves are safe. An 18 year old is not a child he is a young man that should know right from wrong and had killed this officer it would be a totally different story with this so called child on trial. You can almost bet this was not the first visit to this property. Will be interesting to find out what kind of substances come back in his system. Police Officer don’t wake up in the morning deciding they are going to go kill some one. They wake up put a uniform on go to work at all hours of the day and night and let’s not forget holidays to protect the public from people like this young man but when they have to use deadly force oh that should not have been done. Well if you wanted someone to talk to sweet little thing you should have called his minister or his doctor. Bet you money he was of his meds for this disorder. Mom didn’t have a problem dialing 911 when he was chasing her with screwdriver. Frankly I am very glad officer was able to go home to his family which probably sees him less than you could ever imagine. Police are like fireman you only call them when you need them. Hate it for the family of the young man but I also hate it for what the police officer and his family will go through. You can bet his stress level is high too knowing he had to do this for protection.

  • Guest Reply Redux

    Good luck on this one!

  • Morons

    Why don’t you morons take the time to read the story? It says the boiling spring lakes officer was cleared in the incident, not the others… YOU are what’s wrong with America… Idiots

  • Guest98754

    Did you not all hear the family say the first two officers were great and did nothing wrong???? This press release is regarding the FIRST two responding officers, NOT the officer who shot. He is STILL under investigation and I can promise you all, there will NOT be a cover-up. The truth will come out. Most everyone can read between the lines to predict the results of the truth, that’s the easy part. However, do not cast stones at the ones who serve honorably. When the results of the SBI investigation is released, I hope you all publicly apologize to the first two responding officers. As far as the remaining officer, vent all you want, that’s acceptable and understandable. Just please listen to the family’s interview that the first two were excellent in dealing with their son. And please pray for their healing and sorrow and that they find an acceptable and peaceful way to find justice in their son’s death.

  • Police Officer

    I am a police officer. I know we should not take what is reported in the media as anything close to the facts. But why would any police officer believe a mentally challenged teenager with a screwdriver in his own home needs to be shot? More than that, two other officers were already on the scene. This is bad impatient insensitive police work. The DA won’t be able to help this shooter. Any officer that thinks a person that they know to be a mental subject with a screw driver in his own home needs to be shot should turn in their badges now. I am ashamed.

  • Sheila

    The article says that officers John Thomas and Samantha Lewis have been cleared of any wrong doing…….not the the officer who pulled the trigger. That officer appears to still be under investigation.

  • Guest4396

    It appears everything was under control until the trigger man arrived. There is no reason why all officers, except the shooter, should not be cleared.

  • Concerned Citizen

    The statement says the BSL police officers were cleared not the Southport officer who pulled the trigger and shot this poor boy. All statements thus far has said the other officers followed policy so this should not be surprising to anyone. I wanna see what the investigation into the officer who pulled the trigger leads to. That is who ended this poor child’s life and he is the one who should be held accountable!!!

  • Lisa

    This was not a BSL cop that pulled the trigger, it was a cop from Southport!

  • GuestME

    While I don’t side with the officer on this, I do think it’s interesting that in the 911 call, the father says the teen has the screwdriver and that the mother is “scared to death of him.” After the shooting, he becomes a helpless, tiny boy who couldn’t hurt a fly. Obviously his family thought he was dangerous or they would have taken the screwdriver away and restrained him themselves. No, they call Law Enforcement.

  • MG

    This story leaves more questions than answers.

    Why was Southport police involved? Was the Southport officer within his jurisdiction when he fired?

    Considering the amount of time between the BSL police arriving and the Southport officer arriving, why were BSL police able to handle the situation without gunfire? What happened in just 70 seconds that changed the situation into one that required deadly force?

    Plus, the big question, is this another cover-up in Brunswick County that is along the lines with the killing of the officer on Bald Head Island many years ago.

    I sincerely hope the SBI can get to a legitimate, honest, unbiased conclusion.

  • conrad

    The shooter has not been cleared. Only two of the initial responding officers.

  • p.d.

    RGM – how dare you presume to know what this family goes through with your sarcasm about “their well behaved son.” The police are called to help de-escalate a situation. How is it that the other two officers who were there longer, didn’t feel the need to use force. Who gave the police officer from another city the authority to act like he was in charge. A full investigation is warrented. RGM – don’t judge anyone until you have walked in their shoes.

  • Rottweiler

    I would like to thank you for your comment. This is just as you said – bad impatient insensitive police work. And, like you, I think the DA has an open and shut case. But, like my ex-Navy crypto Dad I am less likely to call the police for any reason. The reason is simple – I could get someone like you or I could get someone who is impatient and insensitive. Frankly and unfortunately, I have little chance making a convincing argument until something goes extremely wrong as in this case.

  • BillOBrien

    You are talking out of your rear end. This kid was no threat and the Southport detective made it clear what he intended to when he got there. Can you explain to me how a 90lb. kid who has two officers on him and taser probes still lodged in his skin presents a life threatening hazard to a third officer? No, you can’t explain it because there was no threat to warrant shooting this kid. Defending this officer’s actions is not helping police, if that is what you are trying to do. He murdered this kid…plain and simple. You can speculate about the family or anything you wish but, the facts are that there was no justifiable reason for is shooting. The officer who pulled the trigger needs to be arrested and soon!

  • Anonymous

    You are completely insane. This post is riddled with inaccuracies about mental illness. This was not some punk 18 year-old that was throwing a temper tantrum. He had a mental illness and was in an irrational state. THIS DOES NOT MEAN HE WAS AGGRESSIVE. Families of the mentally ill often do have to involve police because there is literally NO OTHER OPTION in this area. You cannot cure schizophrenia through time outs and discipline, you flaming imbecile. Before you go lauding all that law enforcement officers have to face each morning, take a second to think about seeing your son murdered in front of you, then you can talk about perspective. I do not feel one ounce of pity for this officer. He should be locked up for life.

  • Concerned


  • Teri

    The article says the first officers had things under control and things were okay. Why WOULDN’T they be cleared? It sounds like they did their jobs correctly. It is the third officer who is the murderer.

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