Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Four detectives cleared in shooting death of wanted Wilmington man who was on the run

Senior Assistant District Attorney Connie Jordan, who led the review of the shooting death of Kyle Anthony Horton, discusses Horton’s kidnapping and multiple armed robberies in the days leading up to the shooting. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)

WILMINGTON — Four New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office detectives were cleared in the shooting death of an ex-convict who had been on the run from various law enforcement agencies following a series of armed robberies and kidnappings in Charlotte and Myrtle Beach.

Kyle Horton was shot ten times by the officers inside a stolen vehicle parked at the Briarcliff apartments in Murraysville, just north of Wilmington, on the evening of December 17. A passenger sitting beside him, an ex-girlfriend, was unharmed, according to authorities.

RELATED: Officer-involved shooting leaves man wanted for kidnapping, carjacking, and more dead in New Hanover County

“Kyle Horton is dead because of his actions,” District Attorney Ben David said at a press conference Tuesday morning. “Weeks before he died, Horton told his mother, ‘I am not going back to prison. Officers are going to have to shoot me.’ Those words proved to be prophetic.”

After reviewing an investigation conducted by the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI), David determined that no officer will be criminally charged in this matter. The medical examiner found that Horton had taken the “ultimate shot” himself, according to David, after finding a self-inflicted contact wound at the bottom of his chin.

Night of the shooting

On the evening of December 17, a New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office (NHCSO) detective working with an FBI Violent Crimes Fugitive Task Force was following up on a lead that Horton could be in the Wilmington area. Horton’s ex-girlfriend, Karissa Stanish, resided in a home adjacent to the Briarcliff apartments, according to David, where Detective Will Campbell began surveillance of the parking lot to determine if Horton was there.

Shortly after arrival, he noticed the same silver Ford Escape that had been reported stolen by Horton from the Charlotte area four days earlier. Detective Campbell identified Horton inside the vehicle, and upon Horton flashing his lights, Stanish walked from her home and entered the vehicle’s passenger seat.

Detective Campbell then called for assistance from the FBI task force and NHCSO officers.

“Multiple officers began to arrive, and they converged upon Horton,” David said. “Campbell and another FBI agent pulled their two vehicles up to the front of the stolen vehicle in order to block Horton in. Several officers approached on foot from the rear and all began to yell ‘Show us your hands.’ Stanish, seated in the passenger side, complied with these commands. Horton did not.”

Detective Brandon Ramos approached the passenger window and saw Horton reach to his side and slowly lift a firearm. Ramos alerted other officers of the weapon and yelled for the suspect to put his gun down, who “continued to move his gun in an upward motion towards the officers,” according to David.

“Detective Ramos discharged his shotgun towards Horton, which went through the front passenger window and hit Horton in his right shoulder,” David said. “Horton continued to move and lift his arm with the firearm in hand. At that point, three other officers, Detective Campbell, Detective Charlie Thomas, and Detective Peter Woodin, began to simultaneously discharge their weapons at Horton from various angles in order to protect themselves, other officers, and innocent bystanders. Horton appeared to be hit multiple times and did not continue to move,” according to David.

He was found holding a Glock 26 9mm handgun. While Stanish was safely removed from the vehicle, life-saving measures were performed on Horton. EMS arrived on the scene and Horton was pronounced dead at 9:02 p.m.

Along with the medical examiner’s finding of the gunshot wound to the bottom of Horton’s chin, an upward indentation with a projectile was found lodged into the vehicle’s roof, “further indicating that Horton discharged his firearm upward through his chin and head.”

David pointed to various federal and state court rulings regarding the use of force to explain his decision to not seek criminal charges against the four officers. The determination of whether officers used that force properly depends if the reasonable belief that such deadly force was necessary, according to David.

“The officers had no choice but to shoot and showed remarkable teamwork and acted consistently with how they are trained to respond in critical situations,” David said.

District Attorney Ben David discusses the investigation of the shooting death of Kyle Horton, pictured at right. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
District Attorney Ben David discusses the investigation of the shooting death of Kyle Horton, pictured at right. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)

“One-man crime spree” from Charlotte to Myrtle Beach

David then introduced Senior Assistant District Attorney Connie Jordan, who led the review of the shooting death, to show what he called a “one-man crime spree” that had taken place across the region in the week leading up to the shooting.

Horton had served nearly six years of prison time for attempted first degree murder and other crimes in Davie County before his release in August 2019. He was placed on monitored release, and Horton went to reside with his mother in Wilmington.

In November, Horton’s mother received a protective order against her son, according to Jordan, after stating under oath that Horton “threatened to beat her like a man, and that he ‘flies into rages and threatens that if cops try to take him they will have to shoot him.'”

“She told police that Horton said he was not going back to prison and that officers would have to shoot him,” according to Jordan.

[Editor’s note: It’s not clear why the protective order did not violate Horton’s parole. We’ve requested any possible clarification from the North Carolina Department of Public Safety.]

On December 7, Horton’s mother reported to the Wilmington Police Department that he had broken into her residence and stolen her car before leaving with her vehicle. Warrants for his arrest were issued but never served on Horton.

On the afternoon of December 13, Horton kidnapped and robbed a female at gunpoint at the Arboretum shopping center in Charlotte, then “commandeered her 2017 silver Ford Escape forcing her at gunpoint to drive over state lines into York County, South Carolina,” according to Jordan.

Thirty minutes later the female was able to escape at a gas station in Fort Mill and reported the kidnapping. Video surveillance at the gas station identified Horton, and all local enforcement agencies in the region were notified, according to Jordan.

Later that night a male victim reported that he had been robbed in a Walmart parking lot in Charlotte, and four days later, on December 17, a female victim reported that she was robbed at gunpoint while sitting in her car in Myrtle Beach, providing a description that matched Horton.

That same night, at 8:12 p.m., Detective Campbell found Horton sitting in the stolen Ford Escape before the shooting occurred.

David arrived on the scene shortly after he was notified, according to Jordan, and along with Sheriff McMahon requested the SBI investigation where photographs were taken, evidence was collected, and interviews of the four officers involved in the shooting were conducted.

The four officers were placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

“After a thorough review of the investigation conducted by the SBI, it is clear that all four officers’ actions were justified and required by law,” Jordan said.

Note: After the District Attorney’s press conference, his office later confirmed that none of the detectives involved in the shooting were wearing body cameras.]

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