PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — An investigation is underway after a Pender County sheriff’s deputy fired several shots at a man.
It happened Thursday just before 10:00 p.m. in the 1300 block of Webbtown Road in the Maple Hill community of Pender County.
According to a news release, during an investigation, deputies encountered two people seated in a parked car on the shoulder of the road.
As the deputies approached the vehicle to speak with the occupants, the driver of the vehicle got out and refused to speak with deputies.
Deputies approached the person who remained in the vehicle and saw what he believed to be a handgun in the vehicle occupants hand.
The sheriff’s office says the deputy ordered the occupant to drop the firearm and raise his hands, the vehicle occupant did not comply and raised what the officer believed to be a firearm toward the officer.
At that time, shots were fired by one of the deputies on scene.
The man in the car was later identified as Walter Ray Thompson, 53, of New Bern.
He was not hurt.
Two neighbors who did not want to be identified say they witnessed the incident. They say Thompson was parked in front of his house getting ready to drive his wife to work when the deputies approached him.
“They said, ‘Throw your hands up.’ He threw his hands up, and they holler, ‘He got a gun,’ and went to shoot him,” said one witness.
The witnesses say the deputy mistook a flashlight in Thompson’s hand for a gun, and fired three shots into the windshield of the SUV.
“The bullets were in the headrest. Like if his head would’ve been sitting, he would’ve been dead,” said the other witness.
They say the incident has left their small community shaken.
“It make you kind of scared of police in this town. As far as me, because I wouldn’t know what to do if you pulled me over.”
Initially Thompson identified himself as Alfred Thompson. He is charged with resisting, obstructing or delaying an officer, identity theft, and driving while impaired. He is in the Pender County Jail under a $17,000 secured bond.
Additional charges are pending.
The deputy involved in the shooting has been placed on administrative duties pending an internal investigation.
The District Attorney’s Office was notified and will assist as needed with the internal investigation.
The sheriff’s office is not releasing the name of the deputy, saying it is not public record due to an internal investigation. WWAY does not agree with that interpretation of the law.
They would also not say whether a gun was found in Thompson’s vehicle.
We reached out to the attorneys for Thompson and the deputy, and have not heard back.