WILKESBORO — The Elkin man charged with murder in the death of a Surry County trooper from Ronda Monday night was arraigned in Yadkin County court Wednesday.
The North Carolina Highway Patrol also has announced plans for the funeral for Trooper Samuel Newton Bullard, which will take place Friday. Bullard was a graduate of East Wilkes High School.
During a press conference held at Wilkes Community College Wednesday evening, 1st Sgt. Michael Baker of the Highway Patrol reported that Dakota Kape Whitt, 22, of Elkin, was taken into custody during a traffic stop on Traphill Road in Wilkes County about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday. The arrest occurred after officials received what Baker said was “credible information on the whereabouts” of Whitt.
“It should be noted any time one of our troopers is harmed the State Highway Patrol will use any and all resources to ensure those involved are swiftly brought to justice,” stated Baker.
Officials alleged that Whitt was driving a black BMW on Monday night when he failed to stop for a license checkpoint in Surry County. Bullard along with Trooper P.E. Ellis proceeded to pursue him in a vehicle chase onto I-77 South.
Ellis was directly behind the BMW with Bullard following, and once into Yadkin County, Ellis looked back and realized Bullard was no longer behind him. Officials said Ellis ended the pursuit and went back north to locate Bullard.
Bullard’s patrol vehicle had traveled off the roadway and struck a bridge support near the Jonesville interchange with N.C. 67. The vehicle caught fire as a result of the crash.
Whitt is being held in Yadkin County Jail on no bond, Baker reported. His charges include murder, felony fleeing to elude arrest in a motor vehicle causing death and driving with a revoked license. His next court date is June 6.
Baker said the state accident reconstruction team is part of the ongoing investigation, but he didn’t expect them to have results for several months. He would not comment on whether Whitt was alone in the car during the incident.
“This is a severe loss to our organization,” Baker said of Bullard’s death.
Funeral services for Bullard will take place Friday, with visitation and services at the John S. Walker Center on the main campus of Wilkes Community College. The visitation will be held from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., with the funeral at 1 p.m.
Following the funeral, the procession will travel along U.S. 421 South to Macedonia Baptist Church in Ronda for a private burial. The public can view the procession along U.S. 421 and on side roads, with specifics being announced Thursday morning, but Baker asked that people not park in private driveways.
Tuesday morning, Sgt. Chris Knox of the public information office for the NCHP said, “It’s a tough day for our agency. It’s difficult to swallow. We’re mourning our family member right now.”
In a news release from the Highway Patrol Tuesday morning, Col. Glenn M. McNeill Jr., commander of the agency, said, “Our SHP family is devastated by the loss of Trooper Bullard. We are struggling to find words that describe the hurting we feel right now. Trooper Bullard died as he was fulfilling his promise to the people of North Carolina, protecting and serving his community.”
Secretary Erik Hooks of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety added, “With great sadness, we acknowledge the line of duty death of State Highway Patrol Trooper Bullard. My prayers are with Trooper Bullard’s family and our State Highway Patrol family. Our law enforcement professionals face dangers daily in carrying out the mission to protect our communities. Throughout the department, we mourn the loss of our fallen comrade.”
“On behalf of Colonel Glenn McNeill, Jr and the entire State Highway Patrol we would like to thank all state and local law-enforcement, first responders, local residents, all other members of the public and members of the media for your constant support and assistance during this very tragic event,” said Baker.
“We ask that you keep the family and friends of trooper Bullard in your thoughts and prayers along with the entire state highway patrol as we mourn the loss of one of our brothers.”
Condolances may be sent to State Highway Patrol, Troop E, District V Substation – Surry County, 155 Patrol Station Road, Mount Airy, NC 27030.
“It has been obvious how much people support us at this time,” stated Trooper Chris Knox. “It’s really helped. We’re grateful.”