UPDATED: SBI investigating officer-involved shooting in Pender County
PENDER COUNTY, NC ( WWAY) — District Attorney Ben David says the State Bureau of Investigation is looking into an officer-involved shooting that happened in Pender County over the weekend.
Sunday night a trooper with Highway Patrol shot and killed Maynard Thomas, 67, after investigators say Thomas pointed his gun at them.
Monday, friends of Thomas said it was all a misunderstanding.
“They just shot him down. They just emptied their guns on him,” said Jarrod Watkins, a friend of Thomas.
Crystal Walsh says she had been friends with Thomas for five years and he was the most generous person she has ever met.
She said Sunday night’s violence should have been avoided all together.
“I can’t see why they couldn’t find a better resolution than to take an elderly man’s life,” said Walsh.
Friends and family gathered at Thomas’ home on Sloop Point Road in Hampstead to sort through his belongings on Monday.
They say before Thomas was killed, he was driving his golf cart around a dirt pile and accidentally crashed into his neighbor’s garage.
“He was out playing on his golf cart, doing stuff he shouldn’t be doing,” said Hannah Royal.
Royal says neighbors then called police and Thomas went back to his house to be with friends.
About an hour later, they say police showed up.
David says the Highway Patrol, Pender County Sheriff’s Office, and Surf City Police Department were all on scene at the time of the incident.
Witnesses say officers crept on them.
“I had a neighbor who said he saw them shut their lights off coming right up the road,” said Watkins.
Thomas’ loved ones say the Vietnam veteran had a heart of gold, but he had a problem with people stealing from him. They say because this was a reoccurring issue he kept a shotgun loaded with bird shot handy.
“He said if he ever had to use it on someone, he wouldn’t want to kill him,” said Watkins.
Friends say when Thomas spotted someone in his yard Sunday night; he fired a warning shot to scare whomever it was off.
“He shot out the window not knowing it was the cops,” said Royal.
Watkins, who was visiting Thomas at the time, said investigators never rang the doorbell, used their lights, or identified themselves.
“They were standing right here with no lights on,” said Watkins as he pointed to window in the back of the house.
Watkins says after Thomas pulled the trigger, the gunfire was returned.
“I glanced over at him and saw it went through the heart first round. He was incapacitated. There was no reason to keep shooting,” said Watkins.
Highway Patrol says the trooper did give loud verbal commands to announce law enforcement’s presence.
Highway patrol says the trooper, whose name has not been released, is on administrative leave.
They say second man, Daryl Moore, resisted arrest during the encounter and was charged with resisting, delaying and obstructing a law enforcement officer.