RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A sheriff’s deputy was killed after stopping along a dark stretch of road in North Carolina, prompting authorities to launch a manhunt for whoever fired the shots late Thursday night.
“We will find who’s responsible for this loss. Even in the midst of the hurt and the pain, we ask for prayers, we ask for patience as we go about finding out what happened and who’s responsible,” Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker said at a news conference early Friday morning.
The sheriff’s office identified the slain deputy as Deputy Ned Byrd, 48, a K-9 officer who had been with the office for 13 years. Byrd was fatally shot in the line of duty after 11 p.m. Thursday on a dark section of Battle Bridge Road adjacent to open land about a quarter mile (0.4 kilometers) from a gas station, sheriff’s office spokesperson Eric Curry said by telephone.
“We’re trying to gather why the deputy stopped where he did,” Curry said.
Earlier in the evening, Byrd had responded to a domestic call less than a mile away and then entered his notes into the system, Curry said. There was no radio traffic to indicate that Byrd was making a traffic stop, since procedure would have dictated that he check in, he said. However, it appears that as Byrd patrolled the area, something caught his attention along the road, since his vehicle was positioned as if to illuminate something, he said.
When Byrd didn’t respond to several attempts to check-in, another deputy was sent to check and found Byrd shot outside his vehicle with his K-9 still inside the vehicle, Curry said.
Law enforcement officers from multiple agencies were in the area Friday to join “a manhunt for the perpetrator or perpetrators,” Curry said.
Several sheriff’s deputies have been shot and wounded in recent weeks in North Carolina. Sgt. Matthew Fishman of the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office was killed last week. He was one of three deputies shot while trying to serve involuntary commitment papers at a home south of Goldsboro on Aug. 1.
Attorney General Josh Stein said in a statement that he’s troubled by the “recent spate of violence against law enforcement officers.”
“Officers put their lives on the line to protect our communities – we must do everything in our power to keep them safe,” he said. “I thank the many public-spirited officers who are serving and protecting the people of North Carolina all over the state.”
Byrd joined the sheriff’s office as a detention officer in 2009 and was sworn in as a deputy in 2018, according to the sheriff’s office.
Former Sheriff Donnie Harrison remembered that Byrd’s goal was to be a deputy, WNCN-TV reported.
“I allowed my detention officers, if they qualified to go out for the deputy position,” Harrison said. “He tried a couple times and finally made it. He was one happy person and I was one happy person for him. That’s what makes it so hard.”