Crime

CMPD officer fired at armed suspect on Beatties Ford Sunday

A Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer fired on an armed suspect during a neighborhood traffic stop early Sunday, but the suspect fled and was still at large Sunday night.

It was not clear whether the suspect, whose name police had not released, pointed his weapon at officers or opened fire on them, or whether the man suffered any injuries.

The incident began when police were sent to the 2100 block of Lasalle Street about 1 a.m., when neighbors called about a driver and passengers in a red Hummer riding up and down the street while shooting, police said.

Officers found a car matching the description and stopped it in the 2500 block of Beatties Ford Road, a busy strip that includes a McDonald’s, Burger King, several gas stations and the United House of Prayer.

As officers approached the car, a passenger stepped out armed with a shotgun, police said.

Officer Joseph Meloni fired his weapon at the suspect, who fled on foot.

Police questioned the driver and canvassed the neighborhood Sunday to find other witnesses. The investigation, authorities said, was still in its “early stages.”

Meloni has been a member of CMPD since January 2009 and was assigned to the metro division. He was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the shooting investigation. His annual salary is $51,376.93.

‘It’s like this everywhere’

Hours later on Sunday, the 2100 block of Lasalle Street was mostly quiet. Several neighbors said they were asleep during the incident and did not hear any gunshots.

Thelma Ardrey, who works at the Convenience Shop Mart at the corner of Beatties Ford and Lasalle roads, learned about the shooting while checking out customers and watching a sermon on television.

“Everybody knows Beatties Ford Road,” she said. “It’s trouble.”

Still, Ardrey said most of that trouble comes from outsiders.

Ardrey has lived in the area for 26 years and said she’s not concerned about the suspect still being at large.

“I’ve had no problems,” she said. “It’s like this everywhere. Everybody that comes in here is respectful.”

Denise Lopez said the neighborhood has been relatively peaceful during the six years she has lived there, although she heard about seven gunshots being fired two weeks ago and another volley of shots last week.

Vernon Shepherd rode his bike down Lasalle Street early Sunday with plans to ask a friend about the shooting. He’s lived in the neighborhood for 36 years, having once stayed on the 2100 block of Lasalle – which he thought would be the quiet area.

“It was rough,” he said. “It’s like this all the time.”

Last month, an off-duty CMPD officer shot and wounded Franswa Crawford, 31, after he allegedly pointed a gun at the officer during a foot chase near Albemarle Road, in east Charlotte.

The officer, Sgt. Henry Rozell, said he ordered two men to drop weapons when he saw them shooting. The suspects ran to a nearby apartment complex, resulting in an on-foot chase, police said. Both men turned and pointed guns at Rozell, who fired his weapon, hitting Crawford.

Crawford was treated at Carolinas Medical Center and charged with assault with a deadly weapon on a law enforcement officer; discharging a firearm within city limits; and resisting, obstructing and delaying a police officer. Cleve R. Wootson Jr. contributed.

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