Crime & Courts

‘We need Medic — Now!’ Officer shot in north Charlotte during FBI operation

Editor’s note: This story was originally published on Nov. 1 and updated Nov. 2 with the name of a person arrested in connection with the investigation that led to the shooting.

A Gastonia police officer was shot early Friday while working in a pre-dawn FBI operation to serve a search warrant related to a criminal investigation, authorities said.

The male officer has non-life-threatening injuries, said John Strong, special agent in charge of the FBI’s North Carolina office. Multiple shots were fired, he said, and one person was taken into custody Friday.

Larry McConneyhead, 47, was arrested on federal charges related to the criminal investigation, the FBI said in a news statement Saturday. Public records show McConneyhead is from Charlotte.

He is currently being held in Mecklenburg County Detention Center. As of Saturday, the FBI has not released specific charge information.

Authorities have not said who shot the police officer, whether anyone else was injured or what type of criminal investigation was underway when the shooting occurred.

Strong said it was dark outside during the operation. Two men who live nearby told the Observer they didn’t hear the gunshots but later saw multiple police vehicles converge in the neighborhood while their children were getting ready for school.

Sometime after 6 a.m., Strong said, a team of eight to 10 law enforcement officers approached a home on Oakburn Drive, which is off Old Statesville Road and Gibbon Road in north Charlotte.

An FBI investigation into the shooting will “try to put together exactly what transpired,” Strong said. He added that the agency, along with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, will interview all agents and officers involved, as well as neighbors who might have seen or heard something.

A Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officer fired her gun during the incident, CMPD spokesman Rob Tufano said Friday afternoon. Officer Heather Loveridge is on administrative leave, which is standard procedure for CMPD officers involved in shootings, Tufano said. Loveridge has worked as a patrol officer with CMPD since June 2017.

Gastonia Police Department spokeswoman Donna Lahser said the department would not be releasing the officer’s name due to “officer safety concerns.” Lahser said late Friday the officer is in stable condition and underwent surgery following the shooting.

The Gastonia officer, along with two CMPD officers, were working with FBI agents Friday as part of the agency’s Safe Streets Task Force, which deputizes some local law enforcement officers to work with federal agents. The task force focuses on gangs, drugs and organized crime, Strong said.

“We are very thankful these are non-life-threatening wounds,” Strong said.

“This is not a good day for us, any time one of our officers gets shot,” he added. “When I got that call earlier, my heart did sink.”

Shots fired, ‘officer down’

Audio from police and emergency first responder radio traffic Friday morning indicates the call of “shots fired” and “officer down” went out around 6:30 a.m.

A female police officer can be heard saying over the radio: “We need Medic ... Now!”

Almost immediately, officials in CMPD headquarters confirmed they were sending multiple police officers from the CMPD North Division to assist.

“They’ve got shots fired. An officer is down. Still trying to figure out what’s going on,” a CMPD officer said on the radio.

Within about five minutes, according to emergency radio communications, Medic arrived. The officer was rushed to a local hospital.

The FBI and the NC SBI are jointly investigating the shooting.

“CMPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau will conduct a separate but parallel investigation to determine whether CMPD policies and procedures were followed (by CMPD officers) during the incident,” according to a CMPD statement.

Gastonia Police said it also will conduct an internal investigation to ensure its officers followed department policies. Lahser said the Gastonia Police Department has worked with the FBI through its Safe Streets Task Force for at least 10 years.

Previous reporting by the Observer shows CMPD has worked with FBI Safe Streets in the past, too, going back more than 10 years.

This is the second time in recent weeks that a non-Charlotte-Mecklenburg officer has been involving in a shooting in the city. On Oct. 21, two North Carolina probation and parole officers were involved in a shootout but were not injured.

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