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CMPD 'officer of the month', 2 correction veterans among 4 officers killed in east Charlotte shooting

CMPD chief at podium
Kenneth Lee Jr.
CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings addresses the media in east Charlotte after a shooting left four fficers dead and four injured.

UPDATED Tuesday, 11 a.m.

Four officers were killed and four more injured in an hourslong shooting and standoff, in what amounts to the worst single day for law enforcement in Charlotte's history. A total of eight officers were shot in an east Charlotte neighborhood, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police said.

CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings said three of the officers killed were members of the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force – a U.S. Marshal and two N.C. Department of Corrections officers. They were trying to serve a warrant for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon at a house in the 5000 block of Galway Drive at about1:30 p.m. Jennings the suspect opened fire when they approached, and that they returned fire and hit the man, who died in the front yard of a house. The ensuing standoff lasted for hours before SWAT teams with armored vehicles cleared the house.

In the chaotic afternoon hours Monday, police initially said they took more gunfire from inside the house when they approached after the initial shooting. But on Tuesday, they appeared to back away from that.

"The suspect that was shot and killed was the individual that the warrant was for and was going to be arrested," said Jennings at a Tuesday morning news conference. He said investigators aren't seeking any other suspects, and that two women who were inside the house are "fully cooperating with the investigation."

Jennings also said he had made some "pretty forward remarks" on Monday about a second shooter, and that while police aren't completely ruling out the possibility of a second shooter they are comparing footage from body-worn cameras to try and sort through the events. One reason police thought there was a second shooter Monday was that officers were shot at both from the front and back of the house.

"Tragically, there were three members of the U.S. Marshals task force who were pronounced deceased, and there were four CMPD officers who were shot. ... A total of eight law enforcement officers were shot by the suspects in this house," he said. Jennings said some officers were shot when they rushed into danger to try and extract wounded officers. He praised their bravery.

"They knew what they were going into and still held their own in an attempt to apprehend this suspect," he said. "We saw officers going into the line of fire."

At about 9:30 p.m., Jennings said that a fourth officer — a six-year veteran of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department — had died of his wounds.

Joshua Eyer was critically injured in the shooting and died after being taken to a hospital. Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles said Eyer "was a loved member of our city family who dedicated his life to serving our community." Jennings said he left behind a wife and 3-year-old son.

He became emotional describing how Eyer had recently been named CMPD’s Officer of the Month. 

"It was just last month. I was in this very room, congratulating Officer Eyer for becoming officer of the month in April. He certainly dedicated his life and gave his life to serve our citizens. And I ask that you will keep him and his family and all of the others that fell victim this afternoon, keep everyone in your prayers," said Jennings.

On Tuesday, Jennings said one CMPD officer remains hospitalized for a gunshot wound after undergoing surgery. The others injured have been treated and released.

Sam Poloche
NC Department of Adult Correction
Sam Poloche
William "Alden" Elliot
NC Department of Adult Correction
William "Alden" Elliot

The two correction officers who were killed were identified Monday night as Sam Poloche and Alden Elliot. They were 14-year veterans of the N.C. Department of Adult Correction assigned to the U.S. Marshals Carolina Regional Fugitive Task Force as part of their work in the department’s Special Operations and Intelligence Unit.

“These officers died as heroes and made the ultimate sacrifice in their service to our state,” said Secretary Todd Ishee in a statement. “They loved their work, and were passionate about their roles in protecting our communities.”

Ishee said Poloche leaves behind a wife and two children. Elliot is survived by a wife and one child.

On Tuesday, the US Marshals Service identified the fourth officer killed as one of its deputies, 48-year-old Thomas Weeks. He had a wife and four children, US Marshals Service Director Ron Davis said.

Gov. Roy Cooper called the shootings a "brutal attack." President Biden also weighed in and praised the officers as heroes.

CMPD identified the deceased suspect as Terry Clark Hughes Jr.. Hughes, 39, was wanted for possession of a firearm by a felon and felony flee to elude out of Lincoln County.

Mecklenburg County jail records show Hughes was arrested in 2021 on a lengthy list of charges, including maintaining a dwelling to sell controlled substances, possession with intent to sell or distribute marijuana and fleeing arrest. Criminal records show he was arrested in 2017 for driving with a revoked license, speeding and carrying a concealed gun, a misdemeanor.

Two females inside the house, including a juvenile were taken into custody, and Jennings said police are trying to work out exactly what happened and why. On Tuesday morning, he appeared to back away from an earlier assertion that "there are two shooters involved," and said Hughes appeared to be responsible for the shooting. The two women inside the house are cooperating fully and Jennings said police "are not interested in any additional suspects."

"We still have a lot to uncover, a lot that's unanswered right now," Jennings said.

Police recovered an AR-15 rifle and a .40-caliber handgun, as well as additional magazines and ammunition for both, Jennings said. He estimated the suspect fired about 100 rounds. Twelve CMPD officers returned fire, Jennings said.

The FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have joined other state and federal agencies in the investigation.

The chaotic standoff lasted for hours before CMPD SWAT teams cleared the house in east Charlotte's Shannon Park neighborhood, north of Shamrock Drive and east of East Sugar Creek Road and Eastway Drive. Neighbors in the area shared clips on social media, some from video doorbells and some recorded on cellphones, that showed officers running as bursts of gunfire rattled through the leafy suburban neighborhood.

One man shared a clip of officers in his backyard, trying to get through a fence, as gunshots echoed nearby.

Police shut down major roads for hours, including Independence Boulevard and Randolph Road, in part to facilitate the rapid transport of injured victims to a hospital. Nearly two hours after the initial shootout, CMPD warned there was still "active gunfire" at the residence, as armored vehicles and officers in tactical gear tried to maneuver closer.

CMPD told people to stay indoors and nearby schools were placed on lockdown, with students waiting to leave for the day until police gave the all-clear. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools officials warned parents that buses were disrupted by the road closures and students might be home late.

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles said the city is grieving the fallen officers. The three US Marshals were not identified publicly as of Monday evening.

"They lost their lives after they gave us the opportunity to be in a safe place and they lost their lives. These are people who care deeply about what they have done for their profession, and today we have to say to them how much we are grateful for how much they have done," she said.

Echoes of prior deadly shootings

In the past 31 years, there have been only two other incidents with multiple officer deaths in Charlotte.

Monday's shooting was a little more than a mile from the Timber Ridge apartments, near Milton and North Sharon Amity roads. That's where CMPD Officers Jeff Shelton and Sean Clark were shot and killed in 2007.

They were responding to a call about a disturbance at Timber Ridge when Demeatrius Montgomery ambushed and shot Clark and Shelton, both of whom died.

Prior to Monday, that was the last time multiple law enforcement officers were killed in a single incident in Charlotte.

In 1993, CMPD officers John Burnette and Andy Nobles were shot and killed in the woods near Boulevard Homes in west Charlotte while trying to arrest a suspect in a nearby robbery.

We will continue to update this story as more information is available.

WFAE Reporters Nick de la Canal and Sarah Delia contributed to this report.

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Ely Portillo has worked as a journalist in Charlotte for over a decade. Before joining WFAE, he worked at the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute and the Charlotte Observer.
Kenny is a Maryland native who began his career in media as a sportswriter at Tuskegee University, covering SIAC sports working for the athletic department and as a sports correspondent for the Tuskegee Campus Digest. Following his time at Tuskegee, he was accepted to the NASCAR Diversity Internship Program as a Marketing Intern for The NASCAR Foundation in Daytona Beach, Florida in 2017.
Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.
Lisa Worf traded the Midwest for Charlotte in 2006 to take a job at WFAE. She worked with public TV in Detroit and taught English in Austria before making her way to radio. Lisa graduated from University of Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in English.