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CMPD officials say there was one gunman, no friendly fire in shootout that killed four officers

House with the front damaged
Nick de la Canal
/
WFAE
The house on Galway Drive where four officers were shot and killed, and four more wounded, on Monday, April 29. The house was severely damaged when officers in SWAT vehicles battered their way in.

In a Friday night press conference, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officials said they have confirmed that there was only one shooter in the April 29 gunfight that left four officers dead and five more wounded.

Deputy Chief Tonya Arrington also said that after analyzing thousands of pieces of evidence, including 1,100 video clips, they have determined there was no “blue-on-blue” gunfire in the chaotic shootout and standoff that lasted for hours.

“Based on this evidence, there is no friendly fire in this case,” said Arrington. “No officers were shot (by), or shot at, other officers.”

The shootout started when officers with an interdepartmental task force that seeks violent fugitives tried to arrest a man on Galway Drive in east Charlotte. Terry Clark Hughes Jr., 39, was wanted for possession of a firearm by a felon and felony flee to elude out of Lincoln County.

Arrington also offered the most detailed public timeline yet of the shooting and police officers' responses.

Officers from the U.S. Marshals Service and several other agencies surrounded the modest brick house at about 1:30 p.m. They announced who they were and that they were there to serve a warrant on Hughes, Arrington said.

Hughes then told two women who were in the house with him to “get out or get down,” she said.

Then he opened fire from a second-story window with an AR-15 rifle. During the shooting, he moved between three windows facing the front, back and side of the house, keeping officers pinned down with fire from two of them.

"Officers were actively engaged with gunfire from the suspect for over 17 minutes. That's an eternity, they were in a gun battle," Arrington said.

Four officers were killed and four more injured Monday in an hourslong shooting and standoff, in what amounts to the worst single day for law enforcement in Charlotte's history.

With the high ground, Hughes kept firing from different windows, leading some officers to report there was more than one shooter.

“Because the gunfire was coming from multiple directions … this may have provided the impression of a second shooter on the scene,” Arrington said. “The only shell casings collected at the scene inside the home are consistent with the rifle recovered near the suspect.”

After about 17 minutes, Hughes jumped from a second-story front window. He was shot, and died in the front yard.

Arrington said Hughes also had a .40-caliber pistol on him, but that he only used the AR-15.

North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections officers Sam Poloche and Alden Elliot, U.S. Marshal Deputy Thomas Weeks, and CMPD officer Joshua Eyer were shot and killed. Four other officers were shot and one broke his ankle; they are all recovering.

Arrington also emphasized during the press conference that police have investigated whether officers encountered friendly fire during the chaotic confrontation. The standoff lasted for about two hours — continuing after Hughes was shot, as police evacuated the wounded and brought in SWAT teams and an armored vehicle to clear the house. There were officers on multiple sides of the house, from multiple agencies, and reports that a second shooter was still somewhere nearby.

Arrington said that at one point, officers trained “suppressive fire” on a second-floor window and shot at “movement” seen there, simultaneously with other officers moving along the side of the house to reach a wounded colleague. But she said none of that suppressive fire hit other officers.

The April 29 shooting was the deadliest day for law enforcement in Charlotte’s history, and one of the deadliest in the U.S. CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings said officers are still dealing with the emotional toll after a month of funerals and memorial services, but carrying on.

“Some are doing better than others,” he said. “The bottom line is we’re continuing to do the work.”

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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.