A New Hanover County sheriff’s deputy was shot Thursday afternoon while on patrol in the Creekwood community.
Detective Michael Spencer was shot when he approached a suspicious individual in Creekwood Thursday afternoon, New Hanover County Sheriff Ed McMahon said.
Spencer went into surgery Thursday afternoon.
“Although it is life-changing, it is not a life-threatening injury at this point,” McMahon said about Spencer’s condition.
Law enforcement officers from multiple agencies, including state and federal authorities, were in the area Thursday afternoon after one of two suspicious individuals opened fired on two deputies who were patrolling Creekwood as part of a gang task force initiative.
Detectives initially took one individual into custody but released him, McMahon said. McMahon would not disclose the identity of the individual authorities took into custody and released.
Authorities are focusing their efforts on the shooter.
“The suspect should be considered armed and dangerous,” McMahon warned.
Police are searching for a black man between 5 feet 8 inches tall and 5 feet 10 inches tall. He weighs between 215 and 230 pounds. He was wearing a knit hat, black pants and a black hoodie, sheriff’s office spokesman Sgt. J.J. Brewer said.
“At this point all we’re really releasing is that they were in Creekwood working. It’s no secret that there’s been a lot of problems. So we’ve been very diligent; we’re working very hard and approached a suspicious individual…we will not stop until we have him in custody. And we’re working some really good leads right now.
“We want to make sure that the community is safe right now and that person is not in here. We are going to stay until we don’t have any more leads in this particular area,” McMahon.
Three schools were on lockdown in the area of 30th Street and Princess Place Drive after the shooting.
Mosley Performance Learning Center and Freeman Elementary were put on shelter-in-place status following reports of nearby police activity. Calvary Christian School on 23rd Street went into lockdown, according to a Tweet from the school.
Shelter-in-place is the district’s plan to secure students and staff inside school buildings with limited movement in the event of an emergency.
Law enforcement officials later gave New Hanover County Schools clearance to allow school buses into Creekwood with a police escort.
“We have gangs in New Hanover County. We are going to clean up the areas. And whatever that takes is what we are going to be committed to doing. We’re going to make this a safer area, period.
“It hits very close to home. The community that we all live in…it’s been dangerous recently. So we’ve been working as hard as could and can. We’ve been sharing resources and collaborating together,” McMahon said.
Anyone with information about this case is asked to contact the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office at (910) 798-4162.