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‘Officer down!’ Radio calls detail timeline of east Charlotte gunfight, rescue efforts.

In World
May 15, 2024

Recordings of police radio traffic from April 29 provide a minute-by-minute glimpse of the violent chaos and rescue attempts that unfolded at 5525 Galway Drive that afternoon.

That’s the day that four law enforcement officers were killed in a shootout with a fugitive.

Two hours of police dispatches describe when the shootout in east Charlotte started, how officers responded, their frantic calls to close miles of roads to rush the wounded to local hospitals and a surprise about who was in the house.

Ultimately, eight officers were shot, and four — Joshua Eyer, William “Alden” Elliot, Sam Poloche and Thomas M. Weeks, Jr. — were killed.

The gunfire started when officers tried to serve an arrest warrant on Terry Clark Hughes, Jr., who was wanted for possession of a weapon as a felon. Hughes was also killed in the firefight.

The radio traffic was obtained from www.openmhz.com, a site that allows users to listen to police and fire dispatches. The calls draw a timeline of the events that day, starting just before 1:33 p.m. Unless otherwise identified, the officers speaking on radios were at or near the house where the shooting occurred.

1:32:59: “I got shots fired and an officer down.”

1:35:07: “I’ve got two officers down on Galway Drive.”

1:35:35: An officer on the scene reports that shots are coming from a top window, where the suspect has barricaded himself.

1:36:30: “Several officers pinned down.”

1:37:13: A dispatcher speaks to an officer on the scene: “All right, brother. Deep breaths. We’ve got a lot coming to you. Those two officers, have they been evac’d?”

Officer on the scene: “Negative.”

Dispatcher: “All right brother, I know it’s tough. Start working on a plan to get those officers evac’d. Tons of resources coming.”

1:39:21: “Any officer that’s gonna be on the Delta (right) side of the house stand clear. He’s shooting your way guys.”

1:41:56: “I need smoke or armor behind the house to the Delta side of the target house. That’s where the officers are down. I’ve got eyes on them but I can’t get to them.”

Responding officer: “We’re comin’. Just stand by. Just get in a good hard position. We’re comin’.”

1:43:57: An officer asks if they can get a car to the injured officers.

“Maybe from the Charlie (the back of the house) man. He’s shooting out of the Delta side guys. So I need those officers on the Charlie.”

1:45:0: “I’m pinned down on the Alpha (front) guys.”

1:46:19: “Shots fired. Shots fired.”

The next short transmission appears to relay the sound of shots being fired.

1:46:28: “The man, he’s shooting at us again. Return fire.”

1:46:43: “They need armor in the backyard. A lot of armor in the backyard. As many cars as you can.”

Officers on the scene report that two more officers are hit.

“We got four officers down.”

“Nobody come on the Delta side of that house… He’s firing that way.”

1:48:04: Officers on the scene, sounding tense, say they need cars to transport wounded officers.

1:48:26: “They have four down now. We need officers at the hospital.”

1:49:45: “He has a gun.”

“He’s down. He came out of the window… He’s down in the front yard.”

1:50:17: “He’s shooting rifle rounds. He’s shooting rifle rounds… He is down. He is in the front. We have cover on him right now. He is down. He is shot… He’s laying on his back.”

1:50:42: “Target down. Additional shots from inside the house.”

1:50:59: “There’s one, it looks like suspect in the front yard… You have a downed officer at 5531 in the backyard.”

Saing Chhoeun was in the garage when U.S. Marshals arrived to serve a warrant at 5525 Galway Drive on Monday, April 29, 2024. The home is the site where three members of the U.S. Marshals task force and CMPD Officer Joshua Eyer were killed when intending to serve a warrant to the suspect. Four other officers were wounded during the shooting.

Saing Chhoeun was in the garage when U.S. Marshals arrived to serve a warrant at 5525 Galway Drive on Monday, April 29, 2024. The home is the site where three members of the U.S. Marshals task force and CMPD Officer Joshua Eyer were killed when intending to serve a warrant to the suspect. Four other officers were wounded during the shooting.

Soon afterward, officers begin calling for police to block streets between Galway Drive and Carolinas Medical Center, just south of uptown, so that the wounded officers can be quickly transported there.

1:51:36: While one officer is rushed to the hospital, officers scramble to rescue others.

“Hey, one of the officers is extracted. We can totally get him from that side street… climbing from that yard.”

Other officers: “We can leap over the fence and get him to that side street. It’s that guy that we need to worry about,” one officer says.

“We’ve got two more injured extracted from Delta Charlie. We need more back here to get extracted.”

“Where do you need the vehicle?”

“Come to the house to the left of it. Bust through that back gate.”

Police set up a command post at Galway and Grafton Drive, where injured officers wait to be taken to the hospital.

1:53:41: “I’m not sure how many units you got. I’m going to need some officers to 25 out at Grafton and Galway to evac these officers.”

1:54:43: Police attempt to rescue an officer in the backyard. “This one is going to be critical. We need somebody to provide first aid immediately.”

1:54:45: “Starting CPR.”

Police block the roads to Carolinas Medical Center..

1:56:23: “I need every intersection, every ramp blocked off all the way.”

The suspect is down in the front yard, but police still believe they are being shot at.

2:03:19: “The guy in the front yard is down. And there is still somebody inside shooting.”

The home at 5525 Galway Drive is the site where three members of the U.S. Marshals task force were killed on Monday, April 29, when they were serving a warrant in east Charlotte. CMPD Officer Joshua Eyer died from wounds suffered at the scene Monday evening. Four other officers were wounded during the shooting.

The home at 5525 Galway Drive is the site where three members of the U.S. Marshals task force were killed on Monday, April 29, when they were serving a warrant in east Charlotte. CMPD Officer Joshua Eyer died from wounds suffered at the scene Monday evening. Four other officers were wounded during the shooting.

A SWAT team arrives and more officers are evacuated.

2:10:34: “We still need to evac two officers.”

2:13:45: “We’re getting ready to start putting gas in this house. If you hear anything loud that’s coming from us.”

2:32:31: “Confirming we have all known rescues completed.”

Soon, all injured officers are reported to be at the hospital. The SWAT team, meanwhile, attempts to clear the house. Police then learn other people are inside the house.

2:42:29: A police dispatcher says a woman called to say that her 17-year-old daughter was hiding in a closet in the second-floor bedroom.

2:44:51: An officer asks if officers continued to take fire after the suspect was down, “because we’re getting conflicting reports.”

The response: “100 percent, brother. 100 percent.”

Says another officer: “We were at the back at that time. And that is correct. We were still being shot at.”

(On the day of the shooting, CMPD Police Chief Johnny Jennings spoke about the possibility of a second shooter. But the next day, he hedged on that: “We are not ready to say that at this point.” Police continue to investigate the shooting and no one has been charged.)

2:46:07: Police report that two women, a 39-year-old and a 17-year-old, are hiding in the house. They’re not sure if anyone else is inside.

2:47:29:“Be advised they are in the upstairs bedroom, top left of the stairs.”

2:56:12: “Who is the target we’re looking for?”

The response: “Target was Terry Clark Hughes.”

NC Reality Check reflects the Charlotte Observer’s commitment to holding those in power to account, shining a light on public issues that affect our local readers and illuminating the stories that set the Charlotte area and North Carolina apart. Have a suggestion for a future story? Email realitycheck@charlotteobserver.com

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