Officer realizes he’s been shot hours after incident
By Jessie Burchette
EAST SPENCER ó A 29-year veteran police officer didn’t realize he had been shot until almost three hours after a man fired a semi-automatic handgun at him.
East Spencer Officer Mark Smith said today that the bullet resistant vest ó and a pair of handcuffs destroyed by the bullet ó absorbed the impact.
Smith responded to a report of a prowler around 1:30 a.m. Sunday at 412 Boundary St., at the East Boundary apartments.
When Smith arrived on the scene, he saw a man sitting in a car near the site.
He began talking with the man, trying to find out what he was doing there.
Within a minute or so, he saw movement to the side, and observed a large man coming out of an alcove serving two apartments.
Smith said he asked the man to stop, but the man continued to walk away.
The officer went around the car where he had been questioning the driver and drew his taser.
“I told him to stop or I would Taser him,” Smith said today. At that point the officer was about 10 to 12 feet away from the suspect. “[The suspect] spun around and fired three shots from a semi-automatic handgun.”
Smith dropped the Taser, got behind the car and pulled his pistol. He prepared to return fire, but the man had vanished.
Police from Salisbury, Spencer and the Rowan County Sheriff’s Department assisted in searching for hours but were unsuccessful.
Smith said around 4 a.m., when he returned to the office to fill out his report, he took off the vest and noticed a hole in a pocket.
“It’s less than a month old, I thought I had torn it,” he said. He began checking and found bullet fragments in the pocket and a set of handcuffs that were destroyed.
Police are asking for help from the public in finding the shooter. Anyone who has information is asked to call 704-637-1660, or they can go on the East Spencer website and click on Crime Stoppers to leave information and remain anonymous.