Police: Suspect fired a gun before being shot dead by Cary officer

Shaquian Tyrone Johnson
Shaquian Tyrone Johnson CCBI

Shaquian Tyrone Johnson had a stolen revolver and fired a shot before a police officer shot and killed him early Sunday, Cary Police Chief Tony Godwin said Monday afternoon.

Police think Johnson, 22, had broken into a home on Firetree Lane a couple of hours earlier. A woman had called 911 at 2:38 a.m. to report that a man was inside her home while she and her granddaughter hid upstairs.

Godwin said officers initially saw Johnson run from the house when they arrived. He said officers set up a perimeter and searched the area with dogs for about two hours before finding him.

Police have not released many details about what happened as they tried to arrest Johnson; on Sunday, the town issued a statement that said only, “While taking him into custody, shots were fired.” Godwin said details of the events leading up to the shooting will be a question for state investigators to sort out in the coming weeks.

During a press conference Monday, Godwin said, “Our officer heard that revolver being fired and saw the muzzle flash.” Officer A.J. Lopez, 29, returned fire, hitting Johnson, Godwin said.

He said other officers were in the area and witnessed the shooting. None of the officers were wearing body cameras.

Police performed CPR until paramedics arrived and took Johnson to WakeMed in Raleigh, where he was pronounced dead, according to town spokeswoman Carrie Roman.

Godwin said several cars in the neighborhood had been broken into earlier in the night and said police think Johnson stole electronics, cash and clothing before breaking into the home. He added that more homeowners may discover items stolen as they return from the Memorial Day holiday.

“We have recovered a significant amount of property around the neighborhood,” Godwin said.

There are now three investigations into what happened early Sunday morning. First is a criminal investigation into the larcenies and burglary, Godwin said. Second is an internal investigation by Cary police to see if all policies and procedures were followed by officers leading up to and after the shooting. The third is by the State Bureau of Investigation over the legality of the shooting.

Lopez has been put on “alternative assignment status” while the SBI and the Cary Police Department investigate the shooting, according to the town. Godwin said Lopez has been in law enforcement since 2011, first with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, and joined the Cary police force in June 2015.

Godwin said the SBI will forward its findings to Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman to make a “very educated decision” on whether the shooting by Lopez was legal. The State Medical Examiner’s Office will perform an autopsy on Johnson as part of the inquiry.

In an earlier written statement, Godwin said, “No one got up yesterday morning wanting or even expecting to deal with such a sad set of circumstances, and our thoughts are with everyone everywhere who’s been touched by this tragedy.”

Cary police released the 911 call Sunday from the woman who called to say her granddaughter saw a man in the home. The dispatcher told the women that police found a man running from the home and urged them to stay hidden as officers searched for the suspect.

Duncan: 919-829-4880, @duncanreporting