Bullets fly; Windsor man jailed

Published 7:22 am Wednesday, March 27, 2013

WINDSOR – A local woman’s frightening ordeal, to include a bullet whizzing by her head, ended with her emotionally shaken, but physically unharmed near here Monday afternoon.

Meanwhile, her neighbor is behind bars in Bertie-Martin Regional Jail, held under a $100,000 secured bond on two felony counts of discharging a weapon (a .270 caliber rifle) into an occupied dwelling.

Dwayne Jackson Conner, 36, of the 400 block of School Road, Windsor, was charged in the case following a 90-minute standoff with law enforcement officials from four local agencies. No shots were fired during that tense standoff, where several members of the Bertie County Sheriff’s Office corresponded with the suspect by cell phone while he was inside his home.

“He was pretty irate with us on the phone, cussing and hollering,” said Bertie Sheriff John Holley. “It took right at one hour before we were able to calm him down to the point where he walked out of the house unarmed and surrendered.

“We knew the level of danger we faced in this case,” Holley continued. “But you try not to let that cloud your mind or your judgment. Our main priority was that we were there to protect the public, and that includes the suspect. I was proud of the way we handled this situation. My officers, Windsor PD (Police Department), Highway Patrol and (Bertie County) Probation and Patrol rose to the level of training we’ve experienced over the years. Those long hours of training paid off on Monday.”

Holley said the incident began with a 4:47 p.m. phone call to Bertie County Sheriff’s Dispatch. There, the caller said she had just arrived at her home on School Board and noticed a bullet hole through the wall of her bedroom.

“She then went into her living room to call her mother to ask her what was the best way to report the bullet hole found in the wall,” Holley said. “Her mother suggested calling 9-1-1. While she was on with our dispatcher, a second shot was fired and our dispatcher heard the bang and heard the lady scream.”

Holley went on to say that bullet crashed through the bay window of the living room, close to where the victim was on the phone.

“She told me the bullet came so close that it caused the hair on her head to move,” Holley stated. “I played the 9-1-1 tape back and you can plainly hear a gunshot.”

Seven minutes later, School Road was busy with law enforcement vehicles arriving at the scene, Holley said.

“We shut the road down; we didn’t know at that time where the shooter was located,” Holley said. “For all we knew he could have been hiding in the woods and prepared to pick us off one-by-one or open fire on an innocent passer-by or one of the residents of that neighborhood.”

Holley said it was quickly determined by the location of the two bullets that struck the victim’s residence that the shots were fired from directly across the road. Meanwhile, the victim was whisked away from her residence by a Bertie Deputy and taken to a safe location. Other neighbors were advised of the situation and told to evacuate if they so chose. Holley said one neighbor did opt to leave her home.

“We performed a search of the immediate area and were unable to locate the shooter,” Holley said. “We were then able to obtain the cell phone number of the owner of the home (Conner’s father and mother) and contacted them. They were out-of-town at that time.”

Holley said based on information gained from the father, he was able to learn that Conner had allegedly gained access to a rifle.

“We were also able to gain Mr. Conner’s cell phone number,” Holley said. “Upon calling that number, we learned that Mr. Conner was inside his parent’s home. For right at one hour, myself, (Chief Deputy) Greg (Atkins) and (Sheriff’s) Sgt. (Charlie) Harmon attempted to talk Mr. Conner into surrendering.”

Holley said when Conner asked if his mother (who was at the barricade at that time) could enter the home and was told by Sgt. Harmon that wasn’t possible, the suspect exited the home, unarmed, two to three minutes later and surrendered.

Conner was scheduled to make his initial appearance in Bertie County District Court on Wednesday, and it wasn’t his first time before a judge. According to the North Carolina Department of Corrections website, Conner has an extensive arrest record as follows:

2012 – Violation of protective order (misdemeanor and given probation);

2005 – Simple assault/affray (misdemeanor and given probation);

2004 – DWI Level 4 (suspended sentence with probation);

2004 – Assault on a female, 2 counts each of injury to real property and injury to personal property, and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle (served 5 months in prison);

1997 – Felony B&E and larceny (served 3 months in jail and given 4 months probation); and

1995 – Possession of Schedule II narcotics (given probation).

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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