Trooper hurt after purposely hit by ATV; Gov. McCrory calls it ‘inexcusable behavior’

Published 10:15 pm Saturday, January 23, 2016

By Mark Wineka

CHINA GROVE — Authorities are looking for the operator of an all-terrain vehicle who reports say purposely hit a highway patrolman early Saturday morning in a southern Rowan County subdivision off N.C. 153.

The ATV’s driver turned around and attempted to hit the injured trooper again before the trooper responded by discharging his gun, a press release from the N.C. Department of Public Safety said.

According to reports, the trooper sustained “serious, but not life-threatening injuries” and was transported to Carolinas Medical Center-NorthEast.

According to Danny Jenkins, president of the North Carolina Troopers Association,  the four wheeler broke the trooper’s lower leg and cut his chin.

State officials did not release the trooper’s name Saturday afternoon, but two Charlotte news outlets identified him as Robert Charubini.

The incident happened about 2 a.m. while the trooper was on patrol during the winter storm.

The trooper observed two all-terrain vehicles (four-wheelers) riding in the travel lanes of N.C. 153. He activated his car’s emergency lights and attempted to stop the ATV operators, who pulled into Harmony Lane, a street in a nearby subdivision.

The trooper exited his vehicle and began to approach the ATV operators, according to reports.

“At that point, one of the operators intentionally drove toward the trooper at a high rate of speed, striking him,” the release said. The operator then turned around and attempted to strike the trooper a second time. At that point, the trooper discharged his service weapon attempting to avoid further injury, causing both operators to flee the scene.”

During a press conference Saturday morning giving an update on the state’s response to the snow and ice storm, Gov. Pat McCrory mentioned the Rowan County incident.

“It is inexcusable behavior by the individuals,” McCrory said, adding the trooper was injured, and “I think he’s OK now.”

McCrory added that “shots were fired by the trooper.”

“We’re going to be looking for those people that did harm to one of our public safety officials,” McCrory said. “Totally inexcusable.”

McCrory said there were many “very unique circumstances” during the prior 24 hours, but in referring to the ATV incident, he said, “one was very disturbing.”

The Department of Public Safety is asking for the public’s assistance in providing information that could identify the ATV suspects. Anyone with information is being asked to contact the Highway Patrol Communications Center at 800-233-3151.

The North Carolina Troopers Association is offering a cash reward of $1,000 for information leading to the capture and arrest of the suspects.