Officers investigated in shooting


JONESVILLE — The State Bureau of Investigation has been requested to investigate the officer-involved shooting of James Monroe Barrett 60, of 3659 Bethel Road, in Wilkes County on Monday.

Barrett died in a gunfight with law enforcement that ensued after he shot a deputy and fled the scene.

According to the police report, on Monday a report was made to Wilkes 911 about shots being fired at the residence of 775 N. River Ridge Road. Upon arrival at the scene, officers were fired upon. Three victims were taken to area hospitals for treatment. The suspect was shot by law enforcement and died at the scene. A home and three vehicles belonging to Kent Suddreth were destroyed by fire.

According to information from the State Bureau of Investigation, Barrett exchanged gunfire with deputies responding to a domestic dispute involving Barrett around 5:50 a.m. Officials also believe Barrett lit fire to the house and three vehicles.

Barrett was reported dead at the scene. Wilkes County Operations Major Chief Deputy David Carson reported that Barrett “was shot and killed by law enforcement this morning after exchanging fire with them.”

In a press conference with Carson, he reported that deputies were fired upon once they arrived at the scene. Wilkes Sgt. Steven Russell, a 12-year veteran with the force, sustained injuries before being airlifted to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, but has since been released.

Civilians injured during the incident include Zachary Hill Myers, 38, of 3436 Bethel Road, and Kent Suddreth, 50, of 775 N. River Ridge Road, who are reportedly in stable condition. According to 911 calls released by the Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office, Suddreth reported to the dispatcher that he had been injured in the stomach. In a later call, Myers reported that he appeared to have been shot in the back of the head when checking in on his neighbor and identified the shooter, Barrett, by his vehicle at the scene.

The officers under investigation in the shooting death of Barrett are: Nathaniel Phillip Wells, an officer with the Wilkesboro Police Department since 2010, who is also a sworn officer with the Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office; and Maj. Victor Karl Hall and Lt. Harold Harper Hartley with the Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office.

In the initial call at 6 a.m. Monday, Wilkes County Sheriff’s officers responding to the shots fired call involving Barrett at 775 N. River Ridge Road were initially shot at by Barrett. At about 7:20 a.m., the SBI Special Response Team and Bomb Squad were requested to assist with retrieving three civilians — ranging in age from 12-70 — from a nearby residence.

Wilkes County officers and the SBI were present and attempting to remove the civilians when they were fired upon by Barrett.

The SBI is not releasing further details of the events that led to this incident. This investigation is ongoing.

Karen Holbrook can be reached at 336-258-4059 or on Twitter @KarenHolbook00.

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