Lt. Governor poses questions after arrest of potential terror suspect in Gates County

Published 11:15 am Monday, March 18, 2024

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RALEIGH – This morning (Monday), North Carolina Lt. Governor Mark Robinson urged the Biden Administration to be more forthcoming with answers regarding last week’s arrest of a potential terrorist suspect in Gates County.

Following the March 11 arrest of Awet Hagos after an hours-long standoff near a convenience store where he was employed, the Gates County Sheriff’s office reported receiving notice from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that Hagos may be on the U.S. government’s terrorist watch list.

“I applaud Gates County Sheriff Ray Campbell and his team for getting this dangerous criminal off the street,” Robinson said during a press conference held in his office. “Our brave law enforcement professionals are a credit to the people of North Carolina. Their willingness to put themselves in harm’s way to keep our communities safe deserves more cooperation from federal agencies that ought to be partnering with state and local law enforcement to prevent situations like this to begin with. I hope that the Biden Administration will act urgently to be more forthcoming regarding this potential terrorism suspect.”

On Monday of last week, deputies from the Gates County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to the Quick Stop convenience store, located along US 13 South near Barfield Road, for reported gunshots. Responding deputies were informed that a part-time employee of the store had been outside the store discharging a firearm.

“Upon arrival, the deputies and a Trooper with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol attempted to take the suspect into to custody,” Sheriff Campbell said last week. “However, the suspect became extremely combative and at one point attempted to disarm a deputy of their firearm. The suspect then fled into a small camper located adjacent to the business.”

Following a four-hour standoff, Hagos was arrested after a drone, with an infrared camera operated by the Ahoskie Police Department, spotted him attempting to crawl out from underneath a home next door to the camper. He was charged with three counts of assault on a government official, three counts of resisting a public officer, and carrying a concealed weapon.

Hagos was placed under a $100,000 secured bond and transported to Albemarle District Jail.

The next day (Tuesday, March 12), Sheriff Campbell said he was notified by ICE that Hagos may be on a terrorist watch list kept by the United States Government.

“U.S. Immigration placed a detainer on Awet Hagos, meaning he is prohibited from being bonded out of jail,” Campbell said at that time.

“I am proud of the dedicated professionals of our department for their dedication to keeping our county safe,” Campbell said today (Monday). “I hope that their efforts will be met with more information and a stronger sense of urgency from our federal partners. I appreciate Lt. Gov. Robinson showing leadership on this issue. The Gates County Sheriff’s Office will continue to do all we can to ensure dangerous criminals like this are off the streets and behind bars where they belong.”

In a letter sent to President Biden and senior administration officials, to include the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, Robinson pressed for more information from the relevant federal agencies regarding the arrest of Hagos. In the letter, shared as part of today’s press conference, Robinson asked the following questions:

Is Hagos on the U.S. government’s terrorist watch list?

What are Hagos’ suspected ties to terrorist groups and/or activities?

Is Hagos believed to be acting alone?

Does Hagos have any known associates, friends, or family that you believe are also here?

Does the Federal Government know how Hagos entered the country? By air, crossing the border or other means? What airports, trains, or highways do we know he traveled on?

Where else did Hagos travel to, or through, in the state of North Carolina?

When Hagos applied for and was denied American citizenship, why was he not detained then?

When Hagos applied for and was denied American citizenship, how and who locally was alerted to his whereabouts?

Is the Federal Government aware of any other potential terrorist suspects in North Carolina – whether they have any ties to Hagos or not?

“Clearly, this is of grave concern, not only to the people of North Carolina, but to our entire nation,” Robinson wrote in his letter. “Hagos was living just an hour from major military bases in both North Carolina and Virginia. If this violent individual has terrorist ties, it is imperative that we know immediately what these are, whether he has any associates here with him, and if there is any imminent danger to the citizens of North Carolina.”