Report: Rockwell man injured in confrontation

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 5, 2011

By Shelley Smith
The new year started off badly for a Rockwell man who was taken to the hospital after an attempt to pick his daughter up from his ex-girlfriend’s home, the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office reported today.
Authorities responded to Pop’s Country Store, 5285 U.S. 601, around 3:45 Saturday afternoon, to a call of an injured person, who was possibly shot. Deputies and Rowan County EMS found Joseph Benjamin Fields, 21, with an elbow injury, and he was taken to Rowan Regional Medical Center.
Deputies took statements from people at the store and found that the injury actually happened at 4410 Cauble Road, the home of Steven Ryan Peoples, 25, and Kristen Nichoff. While deputies were questioning Fields at the hospital, a nurse told them the man who possibly hurt Fields, Peoples, was also in the hospital complaining of a dislocated shoulder. He’d told the nurse it had happened while he was chopping wood.
Brianna Cornwell, who was at Pop’s Country Store with Fields, told authorities they went to the Cauble Road residence to pick up Fields’ daughter since it was his weekend to keep her.
When they arrived they blew the horn and Nichoff came out with the child. As Fields placed his child in the car seat, Nichoff and Cornwell began arguing, which quickly turned physical, authorities were told.
As Fields tried to separate the two women, Peoples came outside using an expandable police-style baton, and hit him. Fields told authorities he and Cornwell decided to leave, and as they got into the car, Peoples pulled out a glock-styled gun and began firing shots. Nichoff took the child back out of the car, and Fields told authorities he sped away.
Sheriff’s Detectives Christine Brown and Carl Dangerfield spoke to several neighbors who confirmed hearing gunshots in the area, and also spoke to Peoples at the hospital, who first denied the incident.
People later told the detectives he did use the baton, but that he never had a gun.
Detectives also spoke to Nichoff, whose story was similar to Fields’ except for the gun – she said she had heard gunshots all day, and Peoples never had a gun during the altercation, authorities said.
Detectives were able to get a search warrant for the Cauble Road home, where they found a glock under clothing in the bedroom, and a broken baton and two shell casings in a trash can.
Peoples was charged Jan. 2 with assault by pointing a gun, assault with a deadly weapon and obstruction of justice, and given a $2,500 secured bond.
Authorities said evidence was inconclusive on whether or not Fields’ injury was a gunshot wound.