Man arrested after damaging signs and assaulting county commission candidate Derrick Hickey

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Submitted: Sat, 05/03/2014 - 6:56pm
Updated: Mon, 05/05/2014 - 12:22pm

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Campaign sign vandalism turned out for one candidate for New Hanover County Commission this weekend.

Wilmington Police say they received a call just before p.m. Friday night about a man vandalizing campaign signs. They say Wayne Cole, 69, was using a knife to take down Derrick Hickey campaign signs in the 6200 block of Greenville Loop Road.

Hickey, a Republican running for commissioner, says he was driving home from dinner when he and his wife spotted a man tampering with one of his campaign signs. Hickey says Cole shoved his wife after she got out of the car to take a picture of his license plate. Hickey says the man then began yelling at him and his wife. Hickey says Cole pulled out a knife and threatened his life.

“He pulled out a knife and threatened to stab me,” Hickey said. “And then he started striking me, hit me multiple times in the face.”

Hickey says the driver of the car Cole was in drove away leaving Cole with Hickey and his wife.

Cole was a volunteer for the Skip Watkins campaign. Watkins, another Republican, says he had no knowledge of the vandalism, and Cole is no longer working with their campaign team.

“I was angry, disappointed and hurt that someone would jeopardize the hard work we did on the campaign,” Watkins said.

Watkins says what Cole did was inexcusable, and he hopes the people of New Hanover County will understand.

“I think most people in the community will realize you can’t control a volunteer,” Watkins said. “Why he chose to do what he did, I have no idea. What escalated between them to cause that, I have no idea.”

Police say Cole is charged with two counts of simple assault and one count of property damage.


  • Google IT! says:

    As much as I hate seeing all the political signs they are legal and special laws were passed in 2011 allowing them on state highways. Perhaps instead of getting angry about it, you should use google to find that they are a legal right of campaigns. Don’t like it? Then use google to find your local representation and email them about how they should be eliminated. It helps to be an informed citizen in this country.

  • Kyle Rooster says:

    There’s a cloud of drama that follows Dr. Hickey, and I think it’s of his own making. The web site stunt was trashy enough, but to use your children as props in an overly dramatic stunt to confront a man on a dark road messing with your sign is beyond irresponsible. This is a clear indication of how Dr. Hickey will conduct the County’s business. People will be used to facilitate a little drama to keep attention focused on him. Will Dr. Hickey be heir to the Brian Berger seat?

  • Guest2020 says:

    Of all the problems facing New Hanover County and Wilmington, and people just want to complain about campaign signs that are temporary. You need to focus your time and energy to things that really matter.

    They are not considered abandoned property and are not removed by the DOT as long as they are lawfully placed.

    According to state law, it is a Class 3 misdemeanor for a person to steal, deface, vandalize or unlawfully remove a political sign that is lawfully placed.

  • Guest sickened tired says:

    Stephanie Kraybill, who ran for a board of education seat in 2010 and has been in eligible to run again due to delinquent campaign finance reports, continues to publicly make the claims you state above about Hickey. It is pathetic. Suggesting that this was a “stunt” is repulsive. Being happy someone got attacked is even more so. Stephanie lost in 2010 by her own doing. People didn’t like her. It had nothing to do with Derrick Hickey. it had to do with her not being well liked. She will probably never get elected due to the mean-girls style bashing she has made her style of interaction. The rest of us left that behind in high school.

  • guesty says:

    Thank you, I was under the wrong impression.

  • Guest2020 says:

    No problem. I had looked into it a couple of days ago.

  • Soccer Mom says:

    I have no idea who you are, Well…. but my children play soccer with both Hickey’s children. He has never, and I repeat, NEVER, been thrown out, escorted from a game, etc. Nor has he been abusive to ANY player. I know because I’ve been there. The day of this attack, neither child had a game. OR practice with their teams. Another example of how comfortable you feel with lying. There are plenty of other parents who go to games and know what I am posting is true. He takes his kids to all their practices and games. He finds time to be an involved father in addition to a successful surgeon and board of education member.
    You clearly have a political agenda, but your examples about Hickey’s work on the board of Ed are baseless. Every decision he has made has been with the kids of the county in mind. Anyone who has even remotely paid attention knows that. You can see it in the county schools.
    And you clearly don’t know anything about a fight. Put someone unarmed, 5’8 or so and light built against a 6’4 250 lb guy with a knife? I don’t think so. Nobody thinks so. Not even you. Pathetic.
    By the way, how can you tell the attacker was “out of shape” from his mugshot?! Go see a therapist. You have issues.

  • Well.... says:

    You have clearly never seen him at his kid’s soccer games. My child plays soccer on the same team as his child and he has been escorted out or asked to leave due to violent verbal outburst several times. In fact, the day of this “attack” he was so verbally abusive to the other team (the players mind you, who are children) that he was escorted out. He is a hothead and his decisions on the school board have been questionable if you look at the possible impact they have. This is not a “tea party” or “liberal” thing–the board of education should not fall on political lines, in fact there shouldn’t be parties named, it should be focused on the betterment of education for all of our kids, not a political stepping stone for someone who is unbalanced. The bizarre part of this story to me is–how did an elderly, clearly out of shape man “attack” and “assault” a man who is a very successful marathon runner several years his junior? This is an orchestrated move to rally sympathy before the votes come in.

  • Suetwobeach says:

    Threatened with a knife and assaulted, and somehow You try to blame the victim here. Please share with is who you are voting for, because we certainly don’t want anyone you support winning an office. No one in this county should stand for violence, stealing, vandalism, etc. and we certainly don’t need a politician who sponsors it. Unfortunately for you, Hickey has an outstanding record. He’s been in the board of education for a whole term now, and has consistently represented conservative values. He is a successful doctor and responsible family man. He’s been fair and responsible, and frankly, has done a good job.

    They way you can tell someone is winning in public opinion is when your opposition starts personal attacks and name calling as a strategy. In this case, it is even more obvious when they start slicing up campaign signs. No one reads your anonymous vile comments and makes a judgement based on them. What they should understand is the kind of person you are and what that says about the candidate you support.

  • Rosalia Veti says:

    AMEN and well said Suetwobeach!

  • Flicko says:

    I find it troubling that the only witness to the guy pulling a knife on Hickey was just Hickey and his wife. Are there any other witnesses?

    There have been several drama episodes from this candidate. Some public and many private situations. His campaign seems to be Ego driven. More so than any candidate I have seen running for a commissioner seat.

    Just look at how he has littered the county obsessively with signs.

    I do think what Coles did was wrong but there have been times where I have almost run over one of hickey’s signs and felt like throwing it out of the way. The signs are annoying.

    Let us not let this campaign be about the amount of signs someone has. We need level headed people running our county. Please vote accordingly to character and do some research on your candidates. Talk to some nurses and others who have witnessed his behavior at work.

  • Roger says:

    Does anyone know who would be the best representative to contact to express my opinion that these signs should be outlawed? Maybe I will make a few thousand of my own that say “Contact _____ @ 910-XXX-XXXX if you think these signs are litter”. Guarantee I would be charged.

  • Guest2020 says:

    Don’t count on any help from elected officials since they are the source of the signs.

  • Flicko says:

    I will agree. These signs are trashy looking and should at least be limited.

  • Rick Wilson says:

    Placing your wife in danger over a political sign is just plain stupid. Call the authorities and let the trained professionals handle it. I know what the law is, I just stated my opinion on what I wish it was. You have no idea on what I have worked on spending my own money…….you just hide in cyber space using an alias and trying to project that you are superman…………why are there any criminals running around with what you claim to be able to accomplish? Mr. Hickey showed terrible judgement in how he handled this situation……It is one thing to place yourself in danger, it is inexcusable to place others in danger.

  • Guest2020 says:

    Under NC law, the signs are considered the property of the campaign and people are subject to misdemeanor vandalism charges if they damage or remove the signs.

    The NCDOT has limitations on the placement of signs and size of signs. The municipalities may have stricter laws regarding dates, but NC allows for signs to be placed in the right of way 30 days before the election and they are to be removed within 7 days after the election. NCDOT says that they will not remove any signs from the right of way as long as they are lawfully placed.

  • guesty says:

    It is my understanding if the signs are on the right of way, they are no longer owned by the campaign and are considered abandoned property. How can he be charged with property damage?

    I might be wrong on this.

  • kingstonman says:

    Shame on Mr. Cole for this dirty work of removing Dr. Hickey’s signs. And Mr. Watkins denied any knowledge of the situation. Well I do declare Mr. Watkins shame on you for denying one of your hardest workers!
    Now if the judge that hears the case would make Mr. Cole put up hundreds of signs for Dr. Hickey, who by the way, is one of the best candidates up for electing. He is one great guy and not only a top notch surgeon but also a good family man with good values and has done a good job on the School Board. And I know without a doubt he’ll do well as a New Hanover County Commissioners.

  • SouthEastNC says:

    Hickey is a tea-party wierdo. He’s a “great guy”??? What kind of “great guy” waits for the campaign website of a fellow board-member to expire, and then buys it just so that she can’t renew the web-address with her name on it the next election cycle? And I loved how a couple years ago when his wife tried to run against Rhonda as chair of the NHC GOP, she used her maiden-name and didn’t mention anything about her husband to the crowd that was mostly moderate-Republicans rather than Tea-partiers. Most folks talking to a crowd about wanting to be chair of the political party would mention that their spouse is a currently-elected official. I got stuck somewhere with him a few years back and got a real slimy vibe.

    Hickey should keep running triathlons and stop running for office.

  • LIFEisaBEACH says:

    These Signs Littering and Polluting every major and then some have got to go. If candidates can’t run their campaigns by their record and what they support I don’t see what littering Wilmington and New Hanover County with their names does.

    It is basically state sponsored littering and ugly. I see articles trying to create more tourism here and attract people. How about outlawing campaign signs and these small ugly business signs you see everywhere. Wilmington seems strict on larger business signs but not on these small trash signs everywhere. Lets start trying make Wilmington Beautiful.

  • Rick Wilson says:

    It would be nice if these signs were no longer allowed to be put on public right of ways. I believe they should only be allowed on private property and should have to be put there by the property owners. I also believe/wish they would have to be removed within 3 days after the election.

    I believe there is something wrong with someone that resorts to defacing/removing someones signs. Mr. Hickey should have made a phone call and not confronted this idiot. It showed poor judgement to put his wife in harms way over a political sign………..It is not like there are not hundreds if not thousands of these signs littering the entire county. There will always be idiots…….people, especially people wanting to be elected to public office should show better judgement and rise above idiot level instead of joining the morons.

  • Jana472 says:

    If I caught someone destroying/stealing my property, I would hold them until the police came, too. Maybe you are in favor of criminals running wild around our county. If this guy is pulling this stuff in the middle of the day, he surely has done some other things and is a shady character. Glad the police have him. Now wish they would deport him somewhere. We don’t need more criminals here.
    By the way, the law is signs have to be removed in 45 days after an election. If you are going to whine about it, why not run for office and change it? You don’t put your money where your mouth is.

  • patsy cline says:

    First off knowing your children is in the back seat, why would you confront someone that you know has a knife. Then get out of your car to speak to this person. Im sorry by they created the altercation themselfs. Call the police and let them handle it. It was very stupid an irresponsible to subject your children to that. This all would have not happen if you had not stopped. Over a stupid sign. The way I look at it one less one of your signs. Of all the ones that are running for office you have clogged our streets more than all of them. Please make it stop!!!!

  • Tracie C says:

    These signs…..are a serious problem. Last week I hit one that was laying in the road and the metal grounding spokes were completely tangled in the rim of my tire. But, no problem, right? I don’t even know which person it belonged to because it was such a ratty mess. No worries constituents – I’ll pay for my own tire.
    I drive down Carolina Beach Rd and the whole median looks so tacky. And, seriously, can I zip tie the ads for my next yard sale on the street signs? I would guess – no. You can only do that if you have “Dr.” in front of your name and can’t litter the grass any further.
    But, you go Wilmington. You wish you could be a classy city yet you fail to observe your own back yard.

  • Mick says:

    “I was angry, disappointed and hurt that someone would jeopardize the hard work we did on the campaign,” – Skip Watkins. How bout you apologize to the Hickey Family. This is not about the damage to your campaign

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