Suspect in custody after North Carolina trooper shot, killed

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FAIR BLUFF, N.C. (WNCN) – A North Carolina State Highway Patrol trooper is dead following a shooting Wednesday morning.

According to Highway Patrol Sgt. Michael Baker, the trooper was shot around 12:15 a.m. while conducting a traffic stop on U.S. 701 near Sellers Town Road in Columbus County.

Kevin K. Conner. (Credit: North Carolina Highway Patrol)

According to Baker, the driver of a pickup truck pulled over onto the shoulder after a traffic stop was initiated for a speeding violation. When the trooper, identified as 11-year veteran Kevin K. Conner, made his approach to the vehicle, the driver fired several shots, hitting Conner, authorities said.

Conner died from his injuries on the way to a local hospital, Baker said.

The driver fled the scene following the shooting, officials said. Local police attempted to stop the vehicle and began a brief chase. After his truck became disabled while trying to cross over a railroad track, the driver fled on foot.

Larry Guyton with the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office said the suspect was then surrounded in the woods near Fair Bluff following a manhunt before he was taken into custody around 4 a.m.

“The Highway Patrol family is mourning the loss of a hero and will forever be changed by the tragic events that have occurred”, said Colonel Glenn McNeill Jr., commander of the State Highway Patrol.  “We ask everyone to please keep Trooper Conner’s family and all who knew him in your thoughts and prayers.”

“We extend our deepest sympathy to Trooper Conner’s family”, said Public Safety Secretary Erik A. Hooks. “Trooper Conner was killed while protecting and serving his community. We mourn our loss and will continue to support his family. We are grateful for his service and honor the men and women who serve in harm’s way, each and every day.”

Gov. Roy Cooper released a statement regarding Conner’s death:

“The tragic loss of Trooper Kevin Conner of the N.C. State Highway Patrol weighs heavily on our hearts. We are forever grateful for his devoted service and selfless commitment to protecting the people of North Carolina. Our prayers are with his family and friends and his colleagues in law enforcement.”

The suspect will be identified and charged at a later time, Baker said.

WECT contributed to this report.

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