Fugitive charged in trooper shooting

Feb. 19, 2013 @ 11:50 PM

A man was arrested Tuesday and charged with shooting a Durham-based trooper with the N.C. State Highway Patrol on Monday night during a traffic stop.

Mikel Edward Brady, 23, of White Pine Drive in Durham, was arrested at Ashley Park apartment complex in Raleigh. He was held in the Durham County Jail on Tuesday under $8 million bond, charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, inflicting serious injury. He is also wanted in Vermont on a felony absconder warrant.

Brady is accused of wounding the trooper, Michael Potts, after Potts pulled Brady’s car over on U.S. 70 near Cheek Road about 6:15 p.m. because the driver wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. When Potts walked up the vehicle, Brady allegedly opened fire, shooting Potts in the face, shoulder, hand and fingers.

Potts underwent surgery Monday and a second surgery Tuesday at Duke University Hospital, and was described Tuesday as being in stable condition.

“Last night was a very scary night with an officer-down call,” Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez said at a press briefing Tuesday afternoon at Durham Police Headquarters. “But with law enforcement working together, we were able to bring this to the point that we’re at, and we’re moving forward.”

The Durham Police Department is leading the investigation, assisted by other local and state officers. Lopez said calls from citizens have helped.

“Without the community, I think we would not be as far along as we are,” Lopez said.

Lopez declined to say exactly what led officers to the Raleigh apartment where they found Brady. But he said it was partly due to information from the suspect’s car that was found abandoned Monday night behind a Roxboro Road restaurant, tips from citizens “and just really good police work.”

Kieran Shanahan, secretary of the N.C. Department of Public Safety, said at the press briefing that Potts “maintained professionalism” throughout the ordeal, and was able to return to his patrol car after being shot and radio in a description of the suspect. A second trooper was on the scene “fast,” he said. Shanahan said video from a camera mounted on Potts’ cruiser aided the investigation.

Potts, an 11-year veteran of the patrol, is a former Durham County sheriff’s deputy.

Gov. Pat McCrory visited Potts at Duke Hospital immediately after his State of the State address in Raleigh on Monday night. Family and friends were by his bedside Tuesday.

In an interview Monday, the trooper’s supervisor, Sgt. Maurice Devalle, said Potts’ face was “extremely swollen” but that he was “doing good.”

In a statement Tuesday, N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper  said: “Once again, we’re reminded of the risks that law enforcement officers take every day to protect us. Thanks to the quick work by our State Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement agencies, a dangerous suspect is off the streets and our state is safer for it. We continue to keep Trooper Potts in our thoughts and wish him a speedy recovery.”

A Durham County magistrate said Tuesday that a Durham judge will determine what bond, if any, will be set on the Vermont charges. But officials made it clear at Tuesday’s press briefing that Brady won’t be returned to Vermont until the Durham charges are resolved.

Investigators have not ruled out the possibility of more charges in the shooting.