SPRING HOPE — A state trooper was killed Saturday morning in Nash County while he spread stop sticks across a highway to halt a driver who was being chased by law enforcement officers from Raleigh, where he had allegedly robbed and assaulted a woman and her baby.
The man, Christopher McCoy Rodgers, 40, of Williamston, wrecked his car shortly after striking the trooper. He tried to run away but was captured, ending a 20-mile, 30-minute pursuit, officers said.
The trooper, Bobby Gene DeMuth of Rocky Mount, was struck and killed by the Nissan coupe Rodgers was driving, the Highway Patrol reported. He was pronounced dead at the scene, reported First Sgt. Jeff Gordon, a Highway Patrol spokesman.
The incident began when shortly after midnight, when Rodgers allegedly forced his way into the home of a woman acquaintance in the 5400 block of Morning Creek Way. She said he forcibly restrained her and her 21-month-old child, and barricaded them in a room before he left.
The woman freed herself and fled to a friend’s home where she called to report the crime. Police later discovered that the woman’s ATM card, which Rodgers had stolen, was used in the 800 block of South New Hope Road in Raleigh.
Raleigh police obtained warrants charging Rodgers with burglary, common-law robbery, obtaining property by false pretenses, assault on a female, assault on a child and two counts of kidnapping. Raleigh police were alerted to be on the lookout for the man.
Shortly after 7:30 a.m., a Raleigh police officer saw Rodgers’ car around New Hope Road and Rogers Lane. The officer fell in behind him eastbound on U.S. 264 Bypass and requested backup units before he tried to pull over the car.
Once the backup police were in place, the officers tried to stop Rodgers near the intersection of U.S. 64 and U.S. 264 near Wendell. Rodgers refused to pull over, and the chase was on.
Wake County Sheriff’s Department units took over as the primary pursuers at around the N.C. 96 exit, and eventually Raleigh police said they disengaged from the chase, as units from other jurisdictions, including the Nash County Sheriff’s Department, joined in.
The Nissan took an exit off N.C. 231, crossed a bridge and went the wrong way on an exit ramp that resulted in the car traveling east in the westbound lanes of U.S. 64, Gordon reported.
DeMuth and other state troopers were attempting to deploy stop sticks that would puncture the Nissan’s tires and bring it to a halt. But the Nissan crashed into DeMuth and sped away before it wrecked on U.S. 64, close to Interstate 95.
Gordon said Rodgers jumped out of the vehicle and ran before he was captured by law officers and taken into custody. The Highway Patrol has not yet reported what criminal charges Rodgers will be facing as a consequence of the chase and fatal collision.
DeMuth was a 12-year veteran stationed at the Rocky Mount, Troop C District 1 Highway Patrol Office.
State transportation officials closed the east and westbound lanes of U.S. 64 as they investigate the incident for several hours.