FORT MILL, S.C. A Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer seriously wounded during a shootout Tuesday in York County, S.C., was one of the original members of a specialized unit thats allowed to cross state lines to pursue the departments most violent suspects.
The officer, 42-year-old Shane Page, was recovering after surgery Tuesday at Carolinas Medical Center. Hes expected to be OK after being shot twice in the midsection by a robbery suspect, police said.
The suspect, 31-year-old James William Lewis, received minor injuries during the exchange of gunfire. He was being sought in connection with a robbery in Mecklenburg County. Police said Page and Lewis were the only people who fired shots.
Later Tuesday, police arrested Kristie Barratt, 21, and charged her with obstruction of justice. Police say she was inside the home at the time of the shooting.
Page has been a member of the departments Violent Criminal Apprehension Team since it was started in 2006. The unit uses SWAT-style tactics to pursue and arrest violent criminals.
The VCAT unit was started that year to help capture suspects accused of murder, rape, robbery and other crimes.
This is the team we use to go after the worst offenders, CMPD Chief Rodney Monroe told reporters at a news conference Tuesday morning.
VCAT officers are deputized through the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service so they can pursue suspects who flee the county or the state.
In April 2006, Page was a member of a SWAT team that included Officer Kayvan Hazrati, who was shot in the head by a suspect. Hazrati recovered but was unable to return to police work, and Page earned a CMPD Medal of Valor for helping a fellow officer.
Once a month, members of the VCAT unit train in specialized techniques to deal with barricaded suspects, track down fugitives or force the drivers of fleeing cars to stop.
In eight years, VCAT has arrested more than 3,100 suspects, according to a police spokesman, and has been involved in several high-profile arrests:
• VCAT officers quietly arrested Earle Barranco in a luxury box during a Charlotte Bobcats game in November 2010. He had been charged with murder after police say he shot a man twice in the head at a diner in New York City. Police say the basketball game wasnt interrupted during the arrest.
• In June 2011, they arrested Kristie Welch, who police say brazenly carried a handgun in her waistband as she robbed cellphone stores in Dilworth. As she was being led into police headquarters in handcuffs, she yelled to reporters that she committed the robberies to get heroin.
• In June 2012, VCAT officers flew to Surfside Beach, S.C., to arrest Jerry Lee Brooks. He was the suspect in a string of rapes from 1979 that had been revisited by the departments cold case sexual assault unit. Brooks pleaded guilty to being the ski mask rapist.
He has a gun
Page joined the department in 2000 after graduating from The Citadel military college and working as a narcotics officer with the Charleston Police Department, according to a 2009 Charlotte magazine article. He is married with two children.
He was shot in the 300 block of Brookside Drive near Fort Mill, just over the state line and about a mile away from two schools.
About 6 a.m. Tuesday, Page was with a VCAT that was working with agents from the FBIs Safe Streets Task Force and the York County Sheriffs Office to find Lewis, a felon who has been convicted of possession of cocaine and car theft.
Police said Page and other officers used a loudspeaker, advising Lewis to come out. When he didnt, police tried to enter. Page was shot when he opened a door. No one else was injured.
An older couple lives in the house on Brookside, said neighbor Stephanie Renner, a mother of five who spent several minutes outside Tuesday morning watching police cordon the area with crime scene tape. She called her neighbors nice people who are relatively quiet.
She didnt hear any gunshots, she said, but realized something was amiss when her children, who left home to wait for their school bus, ran back to their house and told their mother there were police at the house up the street. An officer informed her of the shooting, she said.
Another neighbor, Erin Tweed, said she watched the ordeal unfold after witnessing police cars surround the home two doors down from her and hearing officers make commands over a loudspeaker.
They said: Come to the door with your hands showing, Tweed said. About 10 minutes later, 10 officers went into the house, possibly with guns drawn. More minutes passed and the police came out of the house and threw a person on the ground, she said.
She heard someone shout: He has a gun on him.
Staff researcher Maria David and staff writer Steve Lyttle contributed. Jonathan McFadden and Rachel Southmayd report for The (Rock Hill) Herald.
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