CHARLOTTE, N.C. (The Charlotte Observer) - Shots rang out in northwest Charlotte towards the end of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Officer Michael Petrillo’s Friday night shift.
Petrillo, along with his partner in CMPD’s Metro Division, turned on the siren and blue lights on their patrol SUV. Nearby, two other officers, riding together in a patrol SUV, did the same.
The officers, nearly simultaneously, started to rush toward Augusta Street, where someone reported there’d been a possible assault with a deadly weapon.
What happened next — a scene of mangled metal and shattered glass — would send all four officers to the hospital with serious injuries. The two SUVs collided around 11:10 p.m., on Beatties Ford Road as one set of officers attempted to make a U-turn and was hit, or “t-boned,” by the other fast-moving vehicle which was following the lead car.
At least two officers suffered concussions. Another had a broken arm. All four — Officers Micah Edmunds, Michael Mosher, Shon Sheffield, and Petrillo — “were injured pretty badly,” says Rob Tufano, CMPD and Charlotte public safety spokesman.
For Petrillo, an officer with CMPD for the past three years, the wreck was an abrupt end to an already eventful Friday night in one of Charlotte’s busiest police response divisions.
Only two hours before, there was a similar 911 call — a person with a gun and “shots fired.”
Just as Petrillo, Edmunds, Mosher and Sheffield hurried to the call for help on Augusta Street, Petrillo had earlier rode in a racing SUV to the shooting call.
When officers arrived, Petrillo found a man who’d been shot at least twice, according to CMPD. The man was bleeding badly after being shot in his torso and leg. As CMPD officers waited for an ambulance to arrive, Petrillo grabbed a tourniquet from his car and wrapped it around the man’s leg.
That quick action by the police officer likely saved the man’s life, Tufano said.
Such an act deserves the community’s attention, Tufano says, especially as CMPD faces a tough workforce challenge: The department is operating with a shortage of nearly 180 officers.
“No getting around it — a deficit,” Tufano said. “But people should feel assured that the men and women of this organization, despite being down the way they are, find creative ways to keep them safe.”
All four police officers injured in the crash are expected to recover but may miss some work due to their injuries. The condition of the man who was shot and helped by Petrillo was not known but Tufano said as of Wednesday, the man was recovering.
In the hospital, Tufano said, CMPD officials visited the injured officers. When Petrillo met with his division captain for the first time after the wreck, Petrillo immediately asked whether the man he’d helped with a tourniquet was still alive.
“This is the kind of work that goes on daily here in our community,” Tufano said.
Joe Marusak contributed.