CMPD: Man wanted in homicide 'ambushes' police, shot dead at headquarters
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A man wanted in his girlfriend's killing was fatally shot in an officer-involved shooting at CMPD headquarters in uptown Charlotte Thursday night.
Jonathan Bennett, 23, was wanted in the death of 24-year-old Brittany White, his girlfriend and the mother of his 2-month-old daughter.
Police said they were briefing in the parking lot between the law enforcement center and CMPD parking deck when they were shot at multiple times. Several officers, including officer Jeffrey Zederbaum and officer Jared Decker, returned fire, police said.
Bennett was shot and taken to Carolinas Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, police say.
"He ambushed us, he shot at us," CMPD Police Chief Kerr Putney said in a press briefing early Friday morning.
An officer involved in the shooting, identified by police Friday as Casey Shue, was shot in the leg and taken to the hospital with minor injuries. "Two CMPD officers and two probation officers fired their weapons during this incident," CMPD said.
Sources tell WBTV Bennett drove into an empty spot in the parking lot next to officers, got out of his vehicle, walked behind the vehicle and started shooting.
WBTV's Amanda Foster was in a news vehicle in the parking lot when the shots rang out. She was able to get video of the immediate aftermath.
Shue was recognized as the CMPD officer of the month in August 2017. In a Facebook video posted by CMPD, Shue was honored for her "continuous dedication and commitment to the safety of the citizens of Charlotte."
"I love taking bad people off the streets," Shue said in the Facebook video. "I think that whatever we can do to make the streets of Charlotte safer, one of the few things you can do to actually do that immediately is take people that don't need to be on the streets off of the streets."
When she was recognized, Shue said she had "the best job in the world." "I come to work everyday and love what I do," she said. Police said Shue has been working with the police department since July 2014.
Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles tweeted a statement on the shooting Friday, saying several lives were changed in the unnecessary string of violence. "My heart hurts for our injured officer and for the infant who lost both parents in one day," Lyles said.
"It's obvious he knew we were looking for him. Here's what I'll tell you, times like this make you appreciate people who voluntary put their lives on the line to keep us safe. Unfortunately some use that against us," Chief Putney said.
When asked about the security of CMPD's headquarters, Putney replied "it's a public building." "We're going to have to think about how we can keep ourselves safe within it. As far as our parking lot, if somebody wanted to ambush one of us they can do that virtually anywhere," Putney said.
WBTV's Security Analyst Karl De La Guerra said that it is "extremely rare" based on national statistics to have a shooting at a police department's doorstep. "However, you have to look at what might of been going through the mind of the suspect at the time," De La Guerra said. "He knew police were looking for him. Instead of the police coming to him, he went to them, with very regrettable consequences."
Investigators believe Bennett shot and killed White and then took his 2-month-old daughter with him when he left the scene in west Charlotte Thursday afternoon.
The incident happened before 2 p.m. on the 4100 block of Carlyle Drive, which is off of Alleghany Street near Wilkinson Boulevard. Officers said White was found dead with a gunshot wound.
A source close to the investigation said that Bennett changed the license plate on his vehicle before going to the law enforcement center.
Police said an Amber Alert was being issued for the 2-month-old, Journei Bennett, before she was found. Officials say a second child was found unharmed at the scene.
A neighbor near the scene said he heard about five gunshots, then saw police cars racing toward the scene.
There is no word on what may have led to the incident.
Records from the Mecklenburg County Jail show that Bennett was previously arrested for communicating threats and assault on a female.
The Internal Affairs Bureau will conduct a separate investigation to determine whether CMPD policies and procedures were properly followed, which is standard protocol for an officer-involved shooting.
The officer involved is being placed on administrative leave. The officer's identity has not been released.
There has been an outpouring of support for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg officers on social media since the deadly shooting.
Officer Shue has been with CMPD since July 2014. Officer Zederbaum was hired in January 2009 and officer Decker has been with the department since July 2014.
Anyone with additional information is asked to call detectives at 704-432-TIPS or Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600. Police say the investigation is ongoing.
White's killing marks Charlotte's first homicide of 2018.
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