Crime & Courts

Police had 2 prior calls involving NC teen accused of shooting officer

Cornelius Police Chief Bence Hoyle answers a question concerning the shooting of Lt. James Quattlebaum on Saturday, May 2, 2015. Hoyle and Cornelius Mayor Chuck Travis addressed the media during a press conference outside the Cornelius Police Department. Quattlebaum was shot by 16-year-old Greyson Ferrell while responding to a domestic call on Saturday.
Cornelius Police Chief Bence Hoyle answers a question concerning the shooting of Lt. James Quattlebaum on Saturday, May 2, 2015. Hoyle and Cornelius Mayor Chuck Travis addressed the media during a press conference outside the Cornelius Police Department. Quattlebaum was shot by 16-year-old Greyson Ferrell while responding to a domestic call on Saturday. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Law enforcement handled two calls in 2014 involving the teen who now is accused of shooting a Cornelius police officer over the weekend.

The wounded officer, Lt. James Quattlebaum, is expected to make a full recovery after being shot in the abdomen Saturday. He was released from Carolinas Medical Center Monday morning.

Greyson Auguste-Russell Ferrell, 16, is charged with attempted first-degree murder as well as other related charges.

Cornelius police said they had gone to the Ferrell home in the 19400 block of Coachman’s Trace on Dec. 2, 2014, for a domestic disturbance call. Ferrell’s mother, Teresa Ferrell, told police her son had spit on her but she did not want to pursue charges, a police report stated.

She said he is verbally abusive to her all the time, the report stated, and that he broke her ribs a few weeks earlier but she did not call police. “She also stated that she lies awake at night wondering if he might kill her,” according to the incident report.

And on Aug. 13, 2014, Teresa Ferrell called to report she was concerned her son was driving while possibly under the influence of alcohol, another incident report stated. She said she did not want to report the car stolen, and police did not visit the home, according to the report.

Last month, on what appears to be Ferrell’s Facebook page, there were around eight anti-police Facebook posts in about a week’s time, including saying, “F--- the police” several times.

A couple of posts referenced last month’s fatal police shooting of a black man in North Charleston. One post states, “Id rather hear every day about an unarmed cop getting shot by a criminal then armed cops killing innocent people.” Another says, “i like my pork cooked and with a fork in it.”

A third says, “If i was rich i would offer rewards for badges,” followed by a winking smiley face emoticon.

‘An effort to ambush’

On Saturday morning, Quattlebaum and other officers responded to a domestic disturbance call at the Ferrell home off Washam Potts Road. Soon after they arrived, they were shot at and returned fire.

Ferrell was shot by Cornelius police but was not seriously injured, police said. The teen was wearing a bullet-proof vest and was hit at least once, they said.

At a Monday press conference, Cornelius Police Chief Bence Hoyle said he could not discuss many details of the case, which is being investigated by Charlotte-Mecklenburg police.

Quattlebaum was shot at “very close range,” Hoyle said.

“We do believe he (Ferrell) was coming down those stairs in an effort to ambush Lt. Quattlebaum,” Hoyle said.

Unanswered questions include how Ferrell got the bullet-proof vest and gun, how many shots were fired and what exactly preceded the shooting.

Hoyle noted that anyone can simply buy a bullet-proof vest online. Under state statute, a person who wears a bullet-proof vest while committing a felony will see an increase in their penalty at sentencing.

In addition to the felony attempted murder charge, Ferrell is charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill or inflict serious injury, felony assault with a deadly weapon on a government official, and misdemeanor charges of possession of a handgun by a minor, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of marijuana.

Ferrell remains in Mecklenburg County Jail, and is being held without bail on the attempted first-degree murder charge. His first court appearance is scheduled for 1 p.m. Tuesday.

Officials credited the officer’s bullet-proof vest as well as the quick actions of two colleagues on the scene with helping save Quattlebaum’s life.

Officer Jeff Heinz returned fire after Quattlebaum was shot, and Officer Christine O’Neil packed his wound while administering first aid.

If Heinz hadn’t returned fire, Quattlebaum might have been shot again, Hoyle said, declining to elaborate. And the lieutenant’s recovery would have been a lot longer and harder without O’Neil’s actions, Quattlebaum’s surgeon told the chief.

The bullet hit Quattlebaum’s vest and did not go into his body, Hoyle said

Quattlebaum, who has been on the force for 11 years, is the first Cornelius officer to be shot on duty. The department has 60 sworn officers.

Hoyle and Cornelius Mayor Chuck Travis praised the response of the community, local law enforcement and others. A community fund is being started to help the officer, the mayor said.

“The level of support is like none other that I’ve ever seen,” Hoyle said.

Quattlebaum, 32, has two young children, officials said. The lieutenant, Travis said, was a little overwhelmed by all the support, Travis said.

Observer researcher Maria David contributed.

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