Po­lice: Shooting of Raleigh of­fi­cer fol­lowed theft of guns from home

The Charlotte Observer - - Front Page - BY JOSH SHAFFER AND ANNA JOHN­SON

jshaf­[email protected]­sob­server.com ajohn­[email protected]­sob­server.com

The 23-year-old man charged with shooting a Raleigh po­lice of­fi­cer Wednesday night spent the pre­vi­ous hours break­ing into a Holly Springs house and steal­ing six firearms, in­ves­ti­ga­tors say.

Last week, ac­cord­ing to po­lice, he robbed a man of his car at gun­point in Raleigh.

Cedric Ja­mal Kear­ney of Hen­der­son ap­peared in court Thursday with his head ban­daged, his bail set at $2.5 mil­lion, ac­cused of shooting Of­fi­cer C.D. Ainsworth mul­ti­ple times with a .45-cal­iber hand­gun.

Ainsworth, who was re­cov­er­ing from surgery at WakeMed, had been in­ves­ti­gat­ing a stolen car when he was shot off Western Boule­vard around 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. His wounds drew of­fi­cers to an all-night vigil at the hos­pi­tal and prompted prayers of re­cov­ery from U.S. Rep. David Price to the Wolf­pack Na­tion, Ainsworth’s alma mater at N.C. State Univer­sity.

Kear­ney was charged Thursday with at­tempted mur­der, as­sault on a law en­force­ment of­fi­cer, rob­bery with a dan­ger­ous weapon and con­spir­acy, ac­cord­ing to court records.

Po­lice late Thursday that Kear­ney was also charged with as­sault­ing a law en­force­ment of­fi­cer with a firearm. They say he also fired at Of­fi­cer B.A. Halpin on Wednesday night. Halpin “re­turned fire but did not strike any­one,” po­lice said.

Kear­ney was ar­rested on Wendy Lane, ap­par­ently hid­ing in a shed.

A sec­ond man taken into cus­tody in con­nec­tion with the shooting, An­to­nio De­quan Fletcher, 20, of Cary was charged with pos­ses­sion of a stolen .32-cal­iber pis­tol. He did not ap­pear in court Thursday and was hos­pi­tal­ized for an un­re­lated ail­ment.

Ar­rest war­rants de­scribe a string of crimes lead­ing up to the shooting. In one, Holly Springs po­lice ac­cuse Kear­ney of break­ing into a house on Steed­mont Drive on Wednesday and tak­ing six guns, in­clud­ing a Mac-11 semi­au­to­matic, an SKS “bullpup” ri­fle with a bay­o­net and an “uzi” pis­tol.

Po­lice say that on Jan. 4 Kear­ney robbed a man while armed with a semi­au­to­matic pis­tol, tak­ing his phone, wal­let and car. Ainsworth re­sponded to the rob­bery, which hap­pened in the 1200 block of Teak­wood Place, ac­cord­ing to a po­lice re­port.

A man called 911 Wednesday and said the stolen ve­hi­cle was parked on Teak­wood and that two peo­ple who got out of car were act­ing “sus­pi­cious,” ac­cord­ing to a record­ing re­leased Thursday.

Ainsworth re­sponded to the call.

Po­lice shoot­ings are rare in Raleigh. The last time an of­fi­cer was shot was in 2016, when an of­fi­cer sus­tained se­ri­ous but non­life-threat­en­ing in­juries in­ves­ti­gat­ing a break-in at an apart­ment com­plex.

The last time a Raleigh of­fi­cer died from gun­shot wounds in the line of duty was in 1997. Detective Paul Hale died on a stake­out in a Lenoir Street apart­ment.

Ainsworth grad­u­ated with a psy­chol­ogy de­gree from N.C. State, ac­cord­ing to the City of Raleigh’s web­site. He grad­u­ated from the Raleigh po­lice academy in De­cem­ber 2017.

“Of­fi­cers like Charles Ainsworth do whatever it takes to keep our city safe,” Mayor Nancy McFar­lane said in a pre­pared state­ment. “We are all; Coun­cil mem­bers, City staff, and res­i­dents, think­ing of Of­fi­cer Ainsworth as he con­tin­ues to re­ceive care at WakeMed. We will also be think­ing of all the of­fi­cers who carry on to­day with heavy hearts, and thank them for their ser­vice.”

At least two civil­ian sup­port­ers showed up Thursday af­ter­noon to see the of­fi­cer’s ac­cused shooter make his first court ap­pear­ance.

Stephen McNair, 40, said he was meet­ing his fi­ancee near Moore Square last month when he felt faint and dropped to the side­walk near Ainsworth’s pa­trol car.

“He came and helped me,” McNair said.

“He’s the nicest of­fi­cer,” said McNair’s fi­ancee Me­gan O’Neal. “He was very sup­port­ive, very friendly. When I saw his pic­ture, I said, ‘I know that guy.’”

On Thursday morn­ing, po­lice had taped off a city block around the Drift­wood apart­ments, and a Jeep sat just out­side with its pas­sen­ger win­dow bro­ken.

Dur­ing the hunt for the sus­pects Wednesday night, some res­i­dents who live off of Western Boule­vard hun­kered on the floors of their homes, keep­ing away from win­dows and mon­i­tor­ing news re­ports of a fugi­tive on the streets.

Beth Hawkins got notice through a Face­book group at around 9 p.m. and kept low in her teenage son’s room as he­li­copters cir­cled over­head.

“We heard booms and gun­shots,” she said. “At this point, I’m pretty scared. The lights from the he­li­copters were lit­er­ally com­ing in the house.”

Later, she said, neigh­bors closer to the ac­tion re­ported that po­lice had dis­cov­ered a sus­pect hid­ing in a shed, and that of­fi­cers evac­u­ated the home­owner be­fore clos­ing in. Soon, Hawkins said, neigh­bors posted pictures of po­lice hug­ging each other once the ar­rest had been made.

Part of the In­ter­state 440 Belt­line was closed Wednesday evening, and so were many neigh­bor­hood streets.

Some neigh­bors aban­doned their ve­hi­cles and walked home as he­li­copters cir­cled above

Josh Shaffer: 919- 829- 4818, @joshshaf­fer08

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