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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — WWAY has learned former Brunswick County Sheriff Ronald Hewett was tased before he died yesterday, according to a source close to the situation.

Hewett died shortly after 2 p.m. at the New Hanover County Jail, where he was being held on a federal detainer. What is still unclear is how much time passed between the use of the Taser and when Hewett died.

New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Jerry Brewer said Sunday the agency could not comment on whether a Taser was used because the incident is under investigation by the State Bureau of Investigation and because Hewett was a federal inmate. Brewer did say the Sheriff’s Office is conducting an internal review to see if any policies were violated. He said no one has been suspended or put on administrative duty in connection to anything that happened at the jail regarding Hewett.

The Sheriff’s Office has referred all questions to the US Marshal Service. When we asked a spokesman for the Marshal Service about an autopsy, he said there was no new information regarding Hewett’s death.

A look back and the life and career of Ron Hewett

Hewett had been in custody since agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) arrested him Wednesday and charged him with a federal count of possession of a firearm by a felon. The arrest came after agents served a warrant at Hewett’s Supply home and say they found several weapons. Under federal law, he could not have a firearm following his 2008 conviction on obstruction of justice.

Hewett was initially held in the Brunswick County Jail, but was transferred to the New Hanover County Jail following his initial appearance in federal court in Wilmington Thursday morning.

Comment on this Story

  • cmauze

    Cute nickname. Yes, the beach. I know from personal first-hand experience.

    Back in the early 1990’s, on a Friday afternoon I had stopped by a local fishing pier to pick up an acquaintance from where he was scheduled to be working. The acquaintance, who had been temporarily staying with a close friend after having become “down-on-his-luck” incidentally was a troubled individual in his mid-late 20’s, then-recently awaiting sentencing on a DWI and (as we later were to discover) had a history of illegal drug usage, stealing from his family and other petty offenses. We had decided to retrieve him from work, since the previous two weeks his paycheck had mysteriously disappeared by the time he’d gotten home (due to one unlikely circumstance or another); and he was supposed to be working toward getting back up on his feet financially and helping his ex-wife with child support, etc.

    Anyway, as I walked up toward the pier house, there was the distinct smell of marijuana smoke coming from a van parked nearby. When I informed the older guy (either the owner or manager) working behind the inside counter of what I’d witnessed, suggesting that he might want to contact the local police to come and check it out, he went off on me: “Well, hold ON there now, young lady—that’s quite a serious accusation to be making! Do you have any *proof*?” etc. His response went from amused, to defensive, to intimidating, implying that the local law enforcement knew all about it and weren’t concerned; and that I should “mind [my] own business.”

    I didn’t press the issue, sensing that he not only knew what was going on but was probably involved in it in some capacity. After all, if he were a fine, upstanding, law-abiding businessman, why not just call the cops and let them make the decision? In all likelihood my acquaintance was probably among those inside the van, as he was nowhere to be found and the manager/owner gave no clue as to his whereabouts.

    Now probably some of you reading this are thinking either, “Marijuana? Wow, big deal!” or wondering why I didn’t later report the incident to law enforcement on my own. Well, I guess you would’ve had to have been there; but I definitely felt threatened. It wasn’t so much what the guy said as *how* he said it—his body posture and vocal inflection. In fact, for months and even years afterwards, we would briefly run into each other in some public place or other and he’d pointedly comment, “I know who YOU are! I remember *you*…” as if warning me not to interfere.

    The above anecdote is not to imply that all beach cops are dirty. I have no personal experience with that. But I do recall that some time after this incident, during a casual, brief meeting one of them (same beach jurisdiction) copped an attitude because I’d unknowingly addressed him as “Officer” instead of “Sargeant,” as if to imply I’d deliberately declined to show him proper respect. Like the general public is expected to recognize subtle differences between the badge or uniform. I regret not getting his name.

    But seriously, AmusedOne, you don’t think our coastal waterways are a ripe area for drug-related and other organized crime? Many of the homes, especially on the waterfront are short-term rentals (or vacant nowadays, due to skyrocketing insurance and property tax rates). You’ve got tourists (and those pretending to be vacationers) coming in and leaving all the time. In addition, not all beach areas are being actively monitored, even during daytime hours. The boats can quietly come in at night with their navigational lights off, make their “drop” and leave without ever being seen by the coast guard—probably similar to what happened the night Bald Head Island police officer Davina Buff Jones was shot in the head. Grease the right palms, and the drug dealers have carte blanche to come and go as they please; with an implied understanding that they “keep a low profile” so that law enforcement can look the other way.

  • Wanda Malpass

    This is one of the most respectful comments that I have read so far.

  • Bennie Lee

    Mrs. Davis you just don’t know the true story, or any of the details.

  • zenobia

    The letter from Crane that implied that Ron could be expected to have severe benzo and alcohol withdrawal? That was one scary letter. Recently, a local child rapist who was going to come clean was denied alcohol cessation drugs, and conveniently committed suicide before he would talk

  • Guest7969

    I’m fairly sure, as we will find out, those cameras were either inoperable OR malfunctioned…WATCH!

  • Divad

    Doubt Ron’s Brunswick good ole family or friends could ever pull that off. No, this was someone that was a STATE employee in the courts, a Federal employee in the courts or with the SBI Attorney Generals office…guaranteed. Think back who we know in recent history who most frequently has a Federally big idea and gets everyone in power in trouble somehow? Look back in the news, who in Brunswick calls in the Feds and State authorities most often?

  • Guest7969

    a man shouldn’t loose his 2nd Amendment rights for the charges he was brought up and convicted of. He was neither a danger by owning firearms, nor was he charged of a violent crime.

    OBVIOUSLY….he had a reason to have a gun.

  • Ashley

    As I read this letter from a supposed “friend” and I use that word loosely I couldn’t believe a friend would post such… I would hate to read what a enemy would write…. I learned a long time ago not to judge people because you don’t know the road it took to get them there…RIP RH

  • Jennifer

    Why would a ex sheriff be in federal custody ? If he knew what the protocol. Just my opinion.

  • eyeonyou

    I don’t think so. There is no compensation for the lives he destroyed. Hewett made a career of incarcerating individuals on “suspicion” of mis-deeds. Many of these people spent months in jail, losing their jobs, homes, and family stability, only to have the charges dropped or dismissed against them when their day in court finally came. Those were the lucky ones. Targeted individuals had pertinent evidence withheld, or false evidence manufactured to gain a conviction. He played God with the lives of thousands. His “arrest and conviction record” was more important than the people he swore to protect. That Oath includes everyone, not just those beyond suspicion.

  • Michael

    I will have to say I lived in Brunswick county during the Ronald hewett era. Even though Ronald was treated different in a court room than I was and his department made up a lot of false charges against me he should not have to die in a jail like that. Come on people open your eyes the same way the lady police officer died on ball head island I guess that will go to the grave with Ronald or just like he covered up jamie hewetts murder

  • Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

    Are you remotely familiar with the literary device commonly known as “sarcasm”?


    the use of irony to mock or convey contempt.

    “his voice, hardened by sarcasm, could not hide his resentment”

    synonyms: derision, mockery, ridicule, scorn

  • suspicious 1

    Somehow, I can’t see Ron doing anything that would create the need for a taser, unless the guards were harassing him and provoked the situation. You can, however bet money that the camera(s) that should have caught the situation unfolding will have been out of service or some technical problem caused the ordeal to not be filmed, or the images will be so unclear that no one will be recognizable. Might be wrong, but seen this happen too often.

  • lonetraveler

    You are actually showing your ignorance. Again, do your homework preferably before you continue to put your foot into your mouth.

  • Cheryl Davis

    They just couldn’t leave him alone. He had paid his debt to society and trying to live out the rest of his days minding his own business. But some vindictive person – possibly family or friends – was being paid to watch him. I hope that whoever was responsible for his arrest reaps what he sowed. I don’t believe he just died – the stress of how he was being treated killed him. Along with the politicans (trying to be re-elected) took away his dignity and pride. They stripped him of all the honor he earned during his career as Sheriff. He was not bothering nobody in the privacy of his own home. Ronald Hewett was like family to the residents of Brunswick County. God comfort and protect his bereaved family and bless Ronald Hewett’s soul. Sleep on and take your rest, We loved you, but God loved you best. R.I.P. C. Davis Leland, NC

  • angelfire

    Conspiracy or not, GOD decided it was time for him to come home. Ronald is in a better place. He doesn’t ever have to answer to anyone else again. Hopefully many lessons can be learned from this tangled web of deception and sadness. Truth is he had a good heart, he just lost his way! Don’t ever think that you can’t lose your way- because it can happen to the best of families and to the least expectant.

  • Snapped

    Very few facts, lots of speculation and misinformation. Let’s wait to see how this plays out.

  • AmusedOne

    That’s where you go to find organized crime? Never heard anyone say that before.

    What are they doing there; stealing sand for construction projects? Are the lifeguard demanding protection money?

    What an “interesting” thing to say.

  • john gotti

    He who lives by the taser….

  • leigh2014

    where is the letter posted around 3 pm yesterday from the so called friend Jonathan Crane saying he went from a hero to a zero

  • SnarkmeisterGeneral

    2020, I join you in that sentiment. No way he deserved to die because of a parole violation.

  • QTPI

    I am confused…………who did he taze that subsequently died after being tazed……………enlighten us please.

  • Grand Ole Party

    Because the local drunk who worked at the car dealership had privy to so much secret information In Brunswick as well as Columbus. It’s summer, take off that tin foil hat, you are over heating.

  • Concerned citizen

    From the picture posted, he did not appear to in great physical condition. My question is, was other methods used to refrain him tried? Pepper spray or maybe some less aggressive means. I’m also feel sure cameras are present in jail where incident occurred. Will they be released to the public? If proper protocol was used (not saying it was or wasn’t), then there’s no reason video should not be released.

  • John

    Rapists, Terrorists, Thugs, Child Molesters and Mass Murderers.

  • Agree

    I agree with with you. We probably will never know the truth about his death. I do find it suspect. I pray for his children and family.

  • Joy Stephenson

    I’ve known Ronald most of my life. His family went to Church with my family at Supply Baptist Church. He was always a dear friend and never too busy to take a call from me as Sheriff. I will miss his quick smile and warm hugs as will my entire family. RIP Ronald. You were very loved.

  • becca7138

    Secrets manifest!

  • Bennie Lee Spencer

    “You reap what you sew”

  • lonetraveler

    It is so amazing to me that people actually think that Hewett’s case is about gun charges! Wake up and do your homework, people.

  • lonetraveler

    Friends and I were discussing this case as well as the history behind this case and I actually stated that Hewett would never survive this weekend in Jail. Unfortunately, I was correct. I was really hoping that he would be offered a deal on the gun charges for his testimony about the corruption and cover-up going on in Brunswick and Columbus County. Someone really meant for him not to talk.

  • Pam Richards

    We will probably never find out the whole story about his death.

  • Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

    McMahon for sheriff this November!!!!

  • How is this possible

    I don’t know Ron personally, however why would an ex sheriff do something to be tased. One would think he would know protocol and not let things go that far.He is in jail and should not pose that much of a threat to be tased. I understand we should not judge but come on, this sounds way to suspicious to me. I do hope they get to the bottom of this and take appropriate actions. All men even those incarcerated should be treated like human beings.

  • Rick Wilson

    The whole affair has a foul smell to it. Why were the Feds so intent on keeping him in custody? Most others would have received bail. What was the flight risk? I am curious to see what the investigation reveals……..but on the surface it looks like somebody(s) wanted to keep him under control (quiet) and now they have succeeded on a permanent basis. It would be revealing to know what information and from whom led to a search warrant being issued in the first place.

  • Unknown1234

    Has anyone ask to see what time 911 was called and the tape from it as I hear a call was not made till almost 3 pm what happend during that time gap???

  • Guesto

    McMahon for Sheriff this November? You are out of your mind. The crime rate in this county has skyrocketed in the span of less than 5 years, and Ed runs his department for the comfort and convenience of the criminals. But that’s what you get when you have a used car salesman as Sheriff and chef Julia Child as Chief Deputy.

    Ed McMahon: The Criminal’s Choice For New Hanover County Sheriff™

  • mel per

    first, i am praying for Rons family. very sorry for this tragedy, on the other hand you do reap what you sow. because of Mr. Hewetts actions when he was sheriff, many other suspicious things happened that caused the lives of others. he was drunk on several calls that he responded to, and made a decision that more than likely caused a father, brother his life. these facts are on line, so i know it is the truth, but,God is the only one who can judge anyone.

  • Janey

    Amazing how WECT and WWAY Now pretend like they weren’t ring leaders in the sensationalized feeding frenzy that brought about Ron Hewett’s demise. Why don’t they go after a cocain smuggler or something? Because they aren’t interested in real justice but only TV ratings, in their pathetic little hometown neck of the woods. Atleast go to the beaches where you probably have organized crime right under your nose but too ignorant or ill equipped to handle it.

  • Janey

    yea, ignorant vindictive people judging those who had any authority over them.

  • Guest2020

    His crimes weren’t deserving of death.

  • Theresa

    I am willing to bet that Ronald was being taunted. I said all along that a tape will not appear and it does not have audio.
    I would love to know the “Judas” that Ronald trusted-and believe me there were few, that turned him in. We have the right to face our accuser-who accused Ronald? His life as well as his family’s life was threatened. What would anyone of us do in the very same situation???
    Just because he had weapons in his home does not mean the warrant was a good warrant based on facts. The facts were he did have weapons in the privacy of his own home. WHO turned him in to have a possible warrant that may have been based on hearsay.
    This man was crucified in life, please let him regain his dignity and honor in death.
    Until we meet again my friend……..

  • guesty

    I love the way you have tried to paint Ron as a victim. He is a victim only to himself and the choices he made. He may have paid his debt but not in full. Being a felon comes with restrictions he had to abide by and he chose not to do so. He lost his honor, nobody else did that to him.

  • Enkidu

    Unfortunately, Lonetraveler, your statement make way too much sense. Can we expect much to come from the SBI investigation? I know they are supposed to be politically independent from local sheriffs. Let’s hope we get all the facts.

  • PHW

    There is only one that knows or will ever know the truth, God is the final judge here, prayers are much needed here, for his family,friends and love ones I am sure.

  • Guest2020

    He stripped himself of the honor he earned as sheriff, by the crimes he committed. In spite of that, he didn’t deserve to die.

  • Dana709

    And he even got out of prison early on good reconnsence. I hope the feds come into this redneck town and do a criminal investigation of this and the good ole’ boys mentality, who thinks they can get away with such vigilante practices. What’s really sickening is to see the names of some of his high school “friends” who are obviously jealous and terrified that somehow he might over shadow their careers….well guess what…..you made it come to pass on your own.!

  • To all of us, including myself, Ronald Hewett touched, I offer the below website in rememberance and celebration of the life of RONALD E. HEWETT


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