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After being shot in the face, Trooper Daniel Harrell chased down his alleged assailant resulting in a head-on crash that sent the suspect running from the scene, authorities say.
On Tuesday, the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office released new details surrounding the Monday afternoon traffic stop that led to Harrell’s injuries and 36-year-old John David Jones’ subsequent midnight capture.
Harrell, a third-generation state trooper, is recovering at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville after he sustained serious but non-life-threatening injuries. Officials say he is in stable condition.
THE CALL OF DUTY
Harrell conducted a traffic stop for a towing violation Monday on Haynes Road east of Elm City, according to Wilson County sheriff’s deputies. When Harrell went to his vehicle after gaining information on the three vehicle occupants, Jones said he was “not going back to jail,” and fired at Harrell, striking him at least twice in the facial area, according to Sheriff Calvin Woodard. Harrell returned fire and a chase ensued.
After being shot, Harrell continued to chase the suspects until their vehicle turned around and collided with Harrell’s, hitting him head-on and disabling his vehicle, Woodard said. One of the three suspects remained on the scene and immediately surrendered to law enforcement.
Later that night, another suspect surrendered to authorities in an adjacent wooded area on Sharon Acres Road near Haynes Road, according to the sheriff’s office.
Those two suspects, William Allen Boswell, 40, of 5967 Bridgersville Road, Elm City, and 25-year-old Bryan Jeffrey Mullins of 6626 Finch Road, Bailey, were charged in connection to the case. They both face one count each of possession of a stolen vehicle.
Jones was captured around midnight after the N.C. Highway Patrol and Wilson County Sheriff’s Office special response teams found him in a wooded area off Cattail Road near Weaver Road southeast of Elm City, according to Wanda Samuel, sheriff’s office chief of staff.
Samuel said Jones was arrested without incident but was taken to Wilson Medical Center with minor injuries.
The Highway Patrol’s aviation team, State Bureau of Investigation Fugitive Task Force, Greenville police and Wilson County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Bruce assisted with Jones’ capture, Samuel said.
Jones stood before Wilson County District Judge John Britt Tuesday morning as the charges against him were read aloud. Jones, clad in an orange jumpsuit, is charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, assault inflicting serious injury on a law enforcement officer and felony speeding to elude arrest.
He faces other charges including breaking and entering and larceny after breaking and entering in connection to stolen tools, according to court proceedings.
Jones is currently being held under a $1,020,000 bond.
State troopers filled up the first three rows of the courtroom Tuesday morning to show support for their colleague and observe the first appearances in the case, which included Boswell and Mullins.
‘GOD HAD HIS HANDS ON HIM’
Harrell is a five-year Highway Patrol veteran assigned to Troop C, District 5, which covers Wilson and Greene counties. And his fellow troopers have been reaching out to him since the incident.
“God had his hands on him,” Highway Patrol Sgt. Bennie Pulliam told The Wilson Times on Tuesday. “He is definitely lucky.”
Pulliam said Harrell is a hard worker and cares deeply for those he works with each day.
“He will be there in a second to help us out in a time of need,” Pulliam said.
And that’s exactly what Pulliam and other troopers are doing for Harrell and his family now.
“We’re just trying to give him all the support we can and make sure we take care of any needs,” Pulliam said.
Harrell is the son of retired Highway Patrol Sgt. L.C. Harrell and the grandson of retired Trooper T.C. Cherry, according to the North Carolina Highway Patrol Retirees Association.
OUTPOURING OF LOVE, SUPPORT
Pulliam said the outpouring of love and support Harrell and the local office have received since the incident has been tremendous.
“They’ve definitely been there for us,” he said about the community, troopers, first responders and law enforcement agencies from around the state.
Pulliam said Wilson County patrolmen have also had troopers from other districts reaching out to them asking if they need anything.
“They’ve been offering to help take calls, normal things we need to run the district,” he said. “They’ve definitely been there to pick up the torch and roll with it.”
‘COMMITTED TO TROOPER HARRELL’
Sheriff Woodard told The Wilson Times his office has checked on Harrell and will continue to pray for his speedy recovery.
“Our main focus throughout this investigation was to see that the perpetrator who carried out this senseless assault against Trooper Harrell would be brought to justice,” Woodard said. “The Wilson County Sheriff’s Office was not only obligated, but committed to Trooper Harrell and to his family, as we utilized all resources to investigate the case. Our primary duty was to ensure that all of those involved faced the consequences of their actions.”
Woodard said there was an abundance of law enforcement agencies volunteering as well as several agencies on standby. He said he was also grateful to Wilson Police Chief Thomas Hopkins and the police department, which assisted with calls as deputies conducted their investigation.
Woodard said he was also grateful to all local and state agencies who also assisted.
MONDAY SCHOOL LOCKDOWN
During the shooting incident Monday, Elm City Middle School went into lockdown during a basketball game against Forest Hills Middle School. There were several hundred people in attendance, according to Amber Lynch, Wilson County Schools spokeswoman.
“When a lockdown occurs during the school day, students are kept in the school,” she said. “However, since many of the attendees were members of the public, they were allowed to leave the building to go home, but only with a deputy escorting them one family at a time. The team from Forest Hills did not leave the campus until law enforcement advised that the area was safe.”
Elm City Middle School Principal Will Pope commended the two school resource officers for their leadership and keeping people safe Monday night.
“He (Pope) acknowledged that he knew they were torn — they wanted to be out in the field to support one of their law enforcement brothers — but at the same time, they didn’t want to leave the students, staff and parents under their care every day,” Lynch said.