“Not only are Officer Schwenk’s actions justified, they are heroic.”
BRUNSWICK COUNTY — District Attorney Jon David has declared the actions of Leland Officer Jacob Schwenk justified in the fatal shooting of 43-year-old Brent Quinn in December.
David announced the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation concluded its investigation about one month after the incident, which happened just before 9 p.m. in the 1000 Block of Bridgeport Way in Leland on Dec. 9, 2016.
David, along with Assistant District Attorney Quintin McGee on Wednesday spoke about the details of the State Bureau of Investigation’s review of the fatal shooting at the press conference. David said Officer Schwenk’s actions were “not only justified, but heroic.”
Quinn had been involved in a verbal altercation with his girlfriend that night, McGee said. He left his Windsor Park residence in a white Kia passenger vehicle.
Shortly before 9 p.m., several residents in the area reported a vehicle fitting that description driving erratically on Bridgeport Way. The vehicle struck several bushes and mailboxes in the area.
The vehicle was even described by one resident to have driven through his yard, nearly striking his home.
Within minutes Officer Schwenk, 34, responded to Bridgeport Way and was able to locate the vehicle – with Quinn inside – at the end of the road in a desolate cul-de-sac, McGee said.
“As he located the vehicle, Officer Schwenk approached it to inquire with the suspect,” McGee said. “As he approached, Brent Quinn emerged unprovoked from the vehicle and produced a 9mm handgun and immediately began firing.”
Schwenk was shot six times; once in the chest and five times in the legs, McGee said.
The officer fell to the ground after being shot, and then, from a seated position Schwenk was able to pull out his service weapon and return fire.
Quinn was struck six times. According to David, the fatal wounds were two gunshots to Quinn’s face.
“Inside of 10 seconds the entire firefight was over,” David said.
After the gunfire ended, Quinn was able to call for help. Within minutes, officers with the Leland Police Department and deputies with the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene.
Schwenk talked Leland Officer Charles McGee — among the first officers to arrive on scene — through the process of applying a tourniquet to his injured leg, David said. Schwenk was a former EMT, he added.
“That tourniquet was instrumental in stopping the bleeding from Officer Schwenk’s leg … the femoral artery had had been injured from a bullet fired by Mr. Quinn,” Quintin McGee said.
Schwenk underwent surgery at New Hanover Regional Medical Center. Officials say the officer will have a long recovery.
Investigating officers found another loaded handgun inside Quinn’s vehicle following the incident. David said Quinn is a former Marine who had a permit to carry weapons.
David, Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram and Leland Police Chief Mike James requested an independent investigation by the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) following the incident.
The investigation is now complete. As a result, David said he felt comfortable enough to make a legal determination in the case. Still pending is the toxicology report.
The district attorney said that had Quinn survived the incident, he would have faced several charges, including the attempted murder of an officer.
“It’s very clear that for whatever reason, upon being confronted by Officer Schwenk, he made the fateful decision to pull out a gun and fire it multiple times at the officer before he was able to return fire … Mr. Quinn had every intention on killing this officer,” David said.
David said called Officer Schwenk a hero several times during the announcement of the officer’s justified shooting.
“Not only are Officer Schwenk’s actions justified, they are heroic,” David said.
“This man did exactly what his training and experience taught him to do; instinct kicked in and, despite suffering six gunshot wounds, he was able to produce his weapon, fire upon this suspect and even reload in the course of this firefight,” David said. “Had he not been able to do that I don’t know if he would be here today.”
The Town of Leland is fully paying for Officer Schwenk’s medical expenses and his full salary, of nearly $36,000 annually, during his recovery, according to Leland Town Manager David Hollis. Schwenk has worked for the Leland Police Department as a police officer since April 11, 2016.
“It is, quite frankly, a bullet proof vest, the skill of a surgeon and the grace of God that Officer Schwenk is even among us today,” David said. “He is truly a hero. I had the opportunity to tell him that this morning, and … when I told him that he was a hero, he actually disagreed with that. He said ‘I’m not a hero I am a survivor.’ I actually disagree, though. I think he is very much a hero.”
David also commended Officer McGee for his aid to Schwenk, as well as other emergency personnel, Leland officers and Sheriff’s deputies for their response and actions at the scene.
“As District Attorney, I frequently see the best and worst in human behavior,” he said. “This was a savage attack perpetrated on the officer.”
Quinn’s family has been invited to review the case with David.
David said he had a “good conversation” with the family.
“I was touched by their humanity,” he said adding that, though grieving, Quinn’s family members expressed concern for Schwenk.
Schwenk is in “very good spirits” and recovering from his injuries, and the officer is “doing very well, mentally,” David said.