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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A fight with a boyfriend ended with Wilmington Police shooting and killing a suicidal woman in late January.

Today District Attorney Ben David and Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous said the officer who fired the shots was justified.

Less than one month shy of her 22nd birthday, Grace Lousie Denk, a former Marine, was shot four times by a Wilmington Police officer killing her.

“I had her birthday present on my dresser,” Denk’s sister Annie Babbit said in an exclusive interview with WWAY.

It was a birthday present Denk would never see.

Police say Denk and her boyfriend were arguing Jan. 28 when she drove away from his home upset and drunk.

After receiving several texts from Denk saying she wanted to kill herself and that she had a gun, the boyfriend called 911.

“It’s my ex-girlfriend,” he told an operator. “She ran out of the house. I think she’s going to kill herself.”

Police were only on scene for two minutes before shots were fired.

Babbitt says her little sister dealt with depression after returning from Afghanistan, but she did not think Denk would have actually killed herself.

“I think if they had taken more than a few minutes with her, and even if they had tried to talk with her, you know, instead of coming up to her, pointing a gun at her, and kicking her door, I think any gesture would have helped. anything except for what they did,” Babbitt said.

The family’s attorney, Katy Parker, says if the officers involved had crisis intervention training, the outcome may have been different.

“The right person could have saved her life, and it’s so sad that that wasn’t even attempted. It wasn’t even tried,” Parker said.

Parker says there is a serious question as to whether Denk actually pointed her gun at officers, but Evangelous and David say it did happen and was enough to justify the shooting.

Parker says she and Denk’s family are discussing the next steps in finding justice for Denk, including possibly a civil lawsuit against WPD.

Chief Evangelous says the department is ramping up its crisis intervention training.


Comment on this Story

  • Ian

    With what you said, the cops need to stop slapping “To serve and protect” on their cruisers.

  • Guest2020

    I am sorry this woman is dead. I am sorry that she had problems. But her problems do not preclude the officer from defending himself when she pointed the gun at him. At that point, there was no time left for discussion. At that point he had every right to do what was necessary to save his own life.

  • Okie

    The family says this woman had problems with depression and suicide. They should have seen to it that no weapons were available for her. Why did she have a gun within reach, given her mental problems? People need to take responsibility for themselves and their family members. You have a problem with a family member, deal with it. People want to argue and fight, then they want the police to be babysitters. No matter what the police do, they are blamed if something goes bad.

  • pharaoh

    What happened was tragic no doubt and had the officers been trained in some sort of Crisis Intervention the outcome may have been different. Or not.

    The bigger picture and one which is even more tragic is the fact that, here is a former vet and obviously dealing with depression/PTSD issues caused by her service in a war zone. The problems they face are real and the help they get isn’t as good as it needs to be.

    The crisis intervention should have came a long time before things came to the point it did. Sadly, she is among the many who have PTSD issues and are simply not getting the level of professional help and counseling they need and deserve. All to often the VA doctors will simply prescribe a vet with an unending supply of ‘meds’ and send them on their way.

  • Editor

    Here is to the police offing themselves as much as soldiers. I’ll drink to that. Soldiers are not welcome in Wilmington bars/nightclubs so nevermind.

  • guestwhat

    another justified shooting in Wilmington. Shocker!

  • missing nc

    Sad…but justified.

  • ma

    its murder . those cops killed her in cold blood. they went up to her car kicking and acting insane like they are full of the devil and in a rage. dont call the cops unless you want someone to die . if they would of not been there she most likey would of got over it being drunk but the murder patrol wants to kill everyone. good thing she didnt have a dog with her they would of killed it too .

  • Guest, Just another

    Its a shame, but so common. People want to put blame on anyone but the person to blame. I feel bad for the family of Ms Denk, but I feel equally bad for the officer involved. She initiated this, completely. She is to blame, no one else. The officer has to live with this forever. She is to blame. She pulled the trigger.

    Crisis intervention will prove to help, and will also be a cause for blame and failure. There will be officers shot trying to help, and officers will be blamed for not helping enough when issues escalate.


    Law Enforcement is what the name implies – they are hired to enforce the laws – NOT serve as a counselor. They have to make major decisions in just a moment’s notice. Unless you are willing to step up in their place, you need to understand that when someone flashes a gun in their faces, their self-preservation calls for them to protect themselves the same as yours does. If you don’t approve, perhaps it’s time you signed up to take their place. Think about it for a while – and let us know when you sign up. Otherwise, shut up and let them do the jobs they were HIRED to do.

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