Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Residents asking whether helicopter flyovers, driver checkpoints related to Ogden assaults

A traffic checkpoint in Ogden on Thursday night. (Port City Daily photo / Benjamin Schachtman)
A traffic checkpoint in Ogden on Thursday night. (Port City Daily photo / Benjamin Schachtman)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY — Concerned residents in the Ogden area have been on high alert in the wake of several assaults in the suburban area. Many have asked whether recent activity by the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office (NHSCO) is related to the attacks.

The attacks, first reported by WECT earlier this month, date back to August. There have been at the two physical assaults, an attempted break-in, and several suspicious incidents. NHCSO is actively investigating all of the reported events, but have not yet said whether the events might be linked.

That hasn’t stopped residents on social media from speculating that there is a ‘prowler’ or ‘predator’ operating in the Ogden area. That speculation has made residents more prone to assume that law enforcement activity in the area is related to the string of attacks.

The answer is: partially.

Many residents commented that they’d seen the NHCSO’s SABLE helicopter over the Ogden area on Tuesday and Wednesday. A NHCSO spokesperson said the helicopter was not involved in an active manhunt, but that it had been diverted from another mission on at least one occasion to assist deputy’s who were investigating a call about a suspicious incident — the call did not result in a sighting of a suspect.

On Thursday, at least one checkpoint with several NHCSO deputies was conducted just off Murrayville Road near the entrance to the Brittany Lakes and Courtney Pines neighborhoods.

Technically, the checkpoint was operated as part of the NHCSO’s SAFE unit, a partnership with the Governor’s Highway Safety Program; the unit stands up checkpoints to combat speeding, drunk driving, and other traffic issues. During the checkpoint, deputies only checked for licenses.

But, according to a NHCSO spokesperson, it didn’t hurt to have deputies on the streets in the Ogden area. The checkpoint location on Quail Woods Road is one of a few popular access routes to the Ogden suburbs on the west side of Market Street. Deputies were aware of the heightened concerns in the area, and were able to take the opportunity to check in with residents.

NHCSO continues to urge caution, but not alarm, for Ogden residents, urging them to use exterior lighting, locking doors, and calling 911 if a suspicious person is spotted.

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