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Man charged with shooting at officers in Indian Trail

By Steve Lyttle and Davie Hinshaw
slyttle@charlotteobserver.com

A dispute over a beer purchase led to a Union County man firing shots at law enforcement officers early Wednesday morning in Indian Trail, authorities say.

No injuries were reported in the incident, in which the suspect allegedly traded shots with a N.C. Highway Patrol trooper and a Union County sheriff’s deputy.

Authorities said James Eric Sims, 20, of Stallings, faces a number of charges in the case, which was reported about 4:15 a.m. at a Circle K convenience store on Chestnut Lane at Potters Road, near the Indian Trail-Stallings town line. Sims is being held in the Union County Jail without bond, deputies said.

“We are extremely fortunate that these officers weren’t killed or injured in this incident,” Union County Sheriff Eddie Cathey said.

Investigators said Sims entered the Circle K and tried to buy beer after the deadline for purchase of alcoholic beverages. He was refused by the clerk, authorities said, and he left the store.

Moments later, Trooper W.L. Winchester stopped at the store on a routine check. Union County Sheriff Eddie Cathey said Sims followed Winchester into the store, and an argument broke out. Winchester asked Sims to leave the store, Cathey said, and the trooper then called for help. Deputy K.C. Ciucevich arrived a few minutes later, authorities said.

Cathey said Winchester and Ciucevich then walked around the outside of the store, to make sure Sims had left, but they encountered Sims on the side of the store. According to the sheriff, Sims then pulled a gun from his waistband and began firing at Winchester and Ciucevich.

Cathey said the officers returned fire, and Sims fled in the early morning darkness toward Chestnut Lane. A manhunt was launched for Sims, and he was captured by sheriff’s deputies and Stallings police on Chestnut Lane, the sheriff said.

Authorities said Sims has been charged with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon on a government officer; possession of a firearm by a felon; carrying a concealed weapon; drunk and disruptive behavior; possession of a malt beverage while underage; two counts of resisting, delaying and obstructing a public officer; and discharging a firearm inside the Indian Trail town limits.

“Law enforcement is an inherently dangerous profession, and this incident underscores why officers cannot afford to treat any call as routine,” Cathey said.

Lyttle: 704-358-6107; Twitter: @slyttle
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