VANCEBORO, CRAVEN COUNTY - The State Bureau of Investigation has concluded that a Vanceboro officer was justified in shooting a man who allegedly shot and injured three people in Craven County.
District Attorney Scott Thomas announced Friday that based on analysis of the scene and interviews with witnesses, Officer Jason Lovick was justified in shooting 82-year-old John Aites Jenkins, who allegedly did not respond to orders to stop firing. The suspect suffered injuries to his head and face.
Jenkins is accused of shooting three men on Streets Ferry near Vanceboro on Aug. 20. Deputies said two of the victims were trimming trees when they were shot; the third victim was directing drivers away from the area when he was hit. All three have since been treated and released from the hospital.
The district attorney said Jenkins himself was released from Vidant Medical Center Thursday and is being held under a $2,000,000 bond at the Division of Adult Correction in Raleigh.
Immediately following his release from the hospital, Jenkins was charged with three counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, four counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, one count of discharging a weapon into occupied property, and one count of assault with a deadly weapon on a government official.
If Jenkins is able to post his $2,000,000 bond, several conditions have been placed:
- Jenkins must be under house arrest electronic monitoring.
- Jenkins must surrender any and all firearms to law enforcement
- Jenkins must surrender his driver's license and not drive any vehicle while the case is pending.
- Jenkins must not use, possess or consume alcohol or any controlled substance while the case is pending
- Jenkins must not contact any of the victims pending trial.
According to Thomas, if the suspect violates any of those conditions, he will be re-arrested.
Jenkins had his first court appearance Thursday. His next appearance is scheduled for Sept. 19.
THE DAY OF THE SHOOTING:
According to Sheriff Jerry Monette, the shooting spree started at about 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 20, when 38-year-old Angelo Tavares Williams and 41-year-old Brian Lee Holden were trimming trees at 2115 Streets Ferry Rd. That was when Jenkins approached in a pickup truck, investigators said.
Jenkins then pulled out a shotgun and fired at the two men, said deputies. Williams was hit in his face and Holden was hit in his mid-torso. Jenkins also allegedly shot Holden with a revolver.
Afterwards, Jenkins drove to another location on Streets Ferry Road, where two bucket trucks were located, and fired shots at the workers in the buckets, authorities said. Those workers were not hit.
Caller: "He's in a silver Toyota Tundra- black man, he's got a pistol."
911: "How many people have been hit?"
Caller: "I don't know how many. I'm running."
911: "You're running? Where are you at now?"
Caller: "I'm in the back of somebody's yard hiding behind trees. He's shooting another man now. He's taking careful aim and he's shooting in the bucket. The man's in the air. He's trapped."
Officer Lovick and a Craven County deputy responded to the scene and ordered Jenkins to step out of his truck, said investigators. But Jenkins did not respond and continued driving down Streets Ferry Road, according to authorities.
During that time, 73-year-old Billy Arthur Dail, who lives on the road, was directing drivers away from the shooting area. But Jenkins, while sitting in his truck, fired his shotgun at Dail, hitting the victim on the side of his head, face and hand, investigators said.
NewsChannel 12 spoke with Dail's daughter-in-law, Lacey, who said she was getting out of her car when she heard gunshots.
"I was walking over to the neighbors and I see my father-in-law roll and fall to the ground," said Lacey.
At that point, Officer Lovick fired at Jenkins while he was still in his truck, investigators said. The suspect suffered injuries on the side of his head and face before being released from the hospital Thursday.
The three victims who Jenkins allegedly shot were also treated at Vidant Medical Center and were released. Williams and Holden, both of Vanceboro, work for Townsend Corporation, a vegetation management company based in Indiana. They were trimming trees around power lines under a contract for Duke Energy when they were shot, a company official said.
Sheriff Monette said although a motive in the shooting is unknown, he believes the suspect had some sort of emotional stress that he took out on the victims.
ACCOUNTS FROM FRIENDS AND WITNESSES:
Michael Sturgill lives across the street and is good friends with Angelo Williams, one of the men shot. Sturgill said when he heard two of the victims were tree trimmers, he became concerned because he knew Williams was working in the area that day.
"My first thought was, hopefully he wasn't in it. Then when I found out he was, it was like a punch to the gut," Sturgill said.
Sturgill added he is just glad that Williams is back home.
"It's kind of bittersweet because you know he's okay. But also, he's been hurt and from what I've heard he's getting a prosthetic eye in four months," Sturgill said.
NewsChannel 12 also spoke with William himself when he returned home from the hospital. He said he was doing the best he could and wouldn't let a gunshot wound slow him down.
Rosalia Sappelt, a nurse at Vidant Medical Center, said she was coming home from work when she heard the gunshots. She then came across a police officer along Streets Ferry Road. Sappelt said her car, along with two other vehicles, got stuck in the midst of all the action.
"I was asking what was going on and he was telling us to leave, get away. You know, someone was shooting at them," Sappelt said.
Sappelt said she then got down on the floorboard of her car to wait things out. Sappelt told NewsChannel 12 when she was able to leave the scene, she had to put her nursing skills to work.
"As I drove a little bit further, I saw another worker holding his stomach," Sappelt said.
Sappelt said she and a Marine helped the victim and stayed with him until emergency crews arrived.
Because an officer was involved in the shooting, the State Bureau of Investigation was called in as part of standard procedure.
The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to call M. Heckman of the Sheriff's Office at (252) 636-6620 or (252) 514-0424.