Just after midnight Wednesday morning, a North Carolina State Highway Patrol trooper flipped on his lights to pull over a speeding vehicle. It would be the last traffic stop he ever made.
As Trooper Kevin Conner approached what turned out to be a stolen truck, the driver opened fire and then drove away. Conner was left mortally wounded on the side of the road.
WECT reported that Conner, 38, died from gunshot wounds shortly after being transported to a nearby hospital.
One of our @NCSHP troopers was fatally shot this morning while protecting and serving his community and state. The suspect is in custody. The entire @NCPublicSafety family appreciates your thoughts, prayers and support. More details, see: https://t.co/3KHrcsrMPE pic.twitter.com/EoQyur9ZMS
— NC Highway Patrol (@NCSHP) October 17, 2018
Rapid investigation and arrest
“At that time, the driver fled the scene and drove into Fair Bluff,” explained First Sgt. Michael Baker in a media briefing. “The Fair Bluff Police Department attempted to stop the vehicle and a chase ensued.”
“The driver of that white GMC became disabled on the railroad tracks in Fair Bluff off of Rogers Street. A foot pursuit ensued and he was apprehended by authorities after an extensive search,” Baker added.
Other officers had quickly arrived on scene and used dashcam footage from Conner’s patrol vehicle, as well as surveillance camera footage from a nearby convenience store, to identify the suspect and his vehicle.
The suspect, 20-year-old Raheem Davis, was found by police after a brief manhunt and taken into custody. He appeared in court later on Wednesday and has been charged with first-degree murder.
The shooting was overheard by nearby homeowner Hilton Cox, who happened to be outside smoking. He heard multiple gunshots and squealing tires, but noticed the police vehicle didn’t move, so he rushed to the scene, called 911 and attempted to provide first aid to the downed trooper until paramedics arrived. “I held onto him until the EMTs showed up,” Cox said.
State in mourning
“The Highway Patrol family is mourning the loss of a hero and will forever be changed by the tragic events that have occurred,” said the commander of the State Highway Patrol, Colonel Glenn McNeill Jr. “We ask everyone to please keep Trooper Conner’s family and all who knew him in your thoughts and prayers.”
“This is such a tragic and senseless act of violence against one of our fine Highway Patrol troopers,” said Governor Roy Cooper in an interview with WECT. “Trooper Conner served his community and our state well and it just shows you the danger and risk that our law enforcement officers take every day when they step out to protect us and keep us safe. I know the entire Highway Patrol and law enforcement community … all are mourning today, as are North Carolinians across the state.”
Trooper Conner was an 11-year veteran of the State Highway Patrol. Gov. Cooper has ordered that flags across the state be flown at half-mast in his honor.
If convicted, the shooter may face the death penalty or life in prison without parole.