07/20/2019
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Bladen County Sheriff's Department

A Bladen County Sheriff’s deputy and Bladenboro Police officer are on administrative leave as the investigation begins into the shooting of an Elizabethtown man Tuesday night in a wooded area off N.C. 41 near West Bladen High School.

Cpl. Cley Carroll of the Sheriff’s Office and Officer Donnie Williamson of the Bladenboro Police Department fired several shots at 24-year-old Declan Meirion Owen after he pointed a gun at the officers, according to the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office. Owen was pronounced dead at the scene by the Bladen County Coroner’s Office. The shooting took place about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to the State Bureau of Investigation.

It’s routine practice for officers to be placed on administrative leave following a shooting. The SBI will assist in the investigation.

While the investigation will try to determine if the officers followed proper procedure in shooting Owen, it also will try to learn what happened that led to the shootout in the woods less than a mile away from where high school baseball and softball games were being played. People at the games clearly heard several shots fired within a span of 5 to 10 seconds. A few moments later, sirens could be heard as more law enforcement arrived on scene.

The incident began shortly after 7 p.m. Tuesday when Carroll was called to the 1100 block of Hickory Grove Ballpark Road after reports of a man, who was Owen, lying in a ditch with a gun, Sheriff Jim McVicker said. Before Cpl. Carroll arrived, Owen had gotten into a vehicle and left, McVicker said. “Carroll was given a description of the vehicle, and the vehicle was spotted and stopped on N.C. 41 about a half mile from the intersection with N.C. 410.” Officer Williamson responded to the scene to assist, according to the SBI.

Owen left the car and went into nearby woods. The officers went into the woods in search of him, McVicker said.

Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Larry Guyton told WECT-TV that Carroll and Williamson found Owen lying on the ground with his head propped against a tree. He refused several times the officer’s request to show his hands, Guyton said. Owen then raised his hands and pointed a gun at the officers, Guyton told the station. The officers opened fire. Owen did not get off a shot.

Owen’s body has been sent to the state’s Medical Examiner’s Office in Raleigh for an autopsy expected later this week.

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