More than 200 law enforcement officers continued to scour the woods of southern Caldwell County this morning for a man they believe ambushed two of the county's deputies late Friday, then escaped by horse.
One of deputies, Det. Adam William Klutz, died. The other, Lt. Chris Martin, was shot three times in the chest, but was wearing a bulletproof vest and wasn't seriously injured.
A sheriff's department spokeswoman said the officers started a grid search about 9 this morning in the woods in and around the Oak Hill community for 32-year-old Skip Brinkley, also known as Larry Wayne Brucker Jr. Brinkley is an Army veteran who served in Iraq and had returned to Caldwell County about a year ago.
Klutz was responding to a 911 hang-up call on Fox Winkler Road when he was fatally shot. Martin showed up minutes later and found him. Martin was then shot and returned fire.
Klutz was in his mid-20s and had been a member of the sheriff's office for 18 months. He died early Saturday at Caldwell Memorial Hospital, said Det. B.J. Fore, a sheriff's spokesman.
It was the second time this month that a suspect took aim at members of the Caldwell Sheriff's Office. Earlier this month, two deputies were shot while serving a search warrant. The officers, who were wearing bulletproof vests, weren't seriously injured.
Friday's shooting would appear to be the latest in a string of violent incidents involving veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Earlier this year, The New York Times highlighted 121 cases where those veterans committed a killing in the United States, or were charged with one, after their return from war. In many of those cases, the newspaper reported, combat trauma and the stress of deployment appear to have set the stage for the violence.
The State Bureau of Investigation was still trying to figure out why the officers were called to Brinkley's house. Fore said someone called 911 from the home around 9:40 p.m. then hung up. The sheriff's office typically dispatches two officers to such calls, Fore said.
Brinkley's fiancee and her two children were in the house when officers arrived, and Fore said they “have been moved to a safe location.”
Brinkley's family could not be reached for comment. He has no criminal record in North Carolina.
He was described as a blonde white male with a goatee and green eyes, about 5-foot-8 with a medium build. He was last seen wearing a gray T-shirt, brown work pants and a Farm Bureau hat. Police encourage anyone who knows of his whereabouts to call 911.
But Fore warned people not to go near him, because Brinkley may be armed with at least one rifle, possibly one with a scope.
Klutz was a graduate of Appalachian State University who lived with his parents.