Sheriff’s office identifies man who fired at officers during domestic incident

Published 11:00 am Saturday, May 23, 2020

Staff Report

SALISBURY — The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office has identified a Salisbury man who’s accused of firing shots at deputies Friday night following a domestic disturbance call before being shot himself.

Ronald Edward Earnhardt, a 62-year-old white male, of the 1400 block of Dunns Mountain Road in Salisbury, sustained a “significant injury” after a deputy fired back at Earnhardt, the RCSO said Saturday evening. Earnhardt remains at Atrium Health’s Carolinas Medical Center in serious condition.

The shooting occurred around 9:45 p.m. Friday night after deputies were dispatched to 1435 Dunns Mountain Road for a domestic disturbance call. The caller said a man was angry, “tearing up the house” and that the man had fired several shots inside the residence.

Because of the unfolding incident, he is facing charges of communicating threats, the sheriff’s office said in a news release.

Earnhardt allegedly made threats to several people in the house that he was going to kill them, according to RCSO.

Within about 10 minutes of arriving, deputies parked below Earnhardt’s residence and established a perimeter around his house. Earnhardt allegedly continued to fire shots inside the residence while sheriff’s deputies attempted to make contact with him via telephone or voice. RCSO also reported there were at least five different firearms inside of the house, including three pistols and two rifles.

As the incident unfolded, deputies were able to help six people escape from inside the house as well as evacuate another four people from a shed that was located in the backyard of the house. Neighbors from a nearby home were evacuated, too.

Negotiators were not able to effectively establish any prolonged conversation with the man, the sheriff’s office said.

RCSO said they began counting down as they advised him to leave. The man responded that he was going “to shoot all law enforcement if they did not leave,” a news release said.

The man allegedly moved toward a door of the residence, exited and fired a round at deputies. A member of the RCSO Special Response Team returned fire, striking the man with a single shot, a news release said. Rowan County EMS was already on the scene and took him in for medical treatment.

Earnhardt was initially transported to Novant Health Rowan Medical Center after the incident before being transferred to Atrium Health for further treatment. The sheriff’s office has not provided details about where on the body the man was shot.

The State Bureau of Investigation is handling a review of the officer-involved shooting.  The investigation continues.

The RCSO Negotiator Team and the Special Response Team manned perimeter positions as the incident continued so that other deputies could return to patrol duties. The Granite Quarry-Faith Police Department was dispatched to help shut down one end of Dunns Mountain Road to traffic. A sheriff’s deputy blocked the end of the road at Stokes Ferry Road.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story was unclear about the location of the incident. The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office issued a news release saying the incident occurred on Dunn’s Mountain Church Road, but Sheriff Kevin Auten later clarified that was incorrect. The incident was on Dunns Mountain Road.