Chapel Hill News

Orange sheriff identifies deputies who killed suspect in Mebane home invasion

Orange County sheriff’s deputies fatally shot a 46-year-old man who was wanted in connection with a Mebane home invasion and who they say came out of a house Saturday night while pointing a handgun at them.

It was the third fatal shooting by Triangle law enforcement officers in the past week. In each case, the agency reported the suspect had threatened officers with a gun or that a gun not belonging to police was found at the scene.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office identified the man as Keo Crockett, 46. He was killed at his home at 306 Virginia Lee Lane, an Efland address.

Police said Crockett had fired a gun during the home invasion in Mebane, though no one was hit.

The sheriff’s office laid out the events this way.

At 10:59 p.m. Saturday, Orange County Communications indicated the Mebane Police Department was asking the Orange County Sheriff’s Office for help finding a man who had allegedly broken into a home in their city and assaulted two people.

Deputies were advised that Crockett had fired a handgun during the home invasion and should be considered armed and dangerous. Mebane police gave deputies Crockett’s name and address, along with the registration number of the vehicle he was driving.

Deputies Duke Ashley and Tyler Chelenza went to the home on Virginia Lee Lane, where they matched the registration on the vehicle in the driveway with that given by Mebane police.

Ashley knocked on the front door and “a male subject abruptly exited holding a handgun and raised the handgun pointing it directly at him,” the sheriff’s office said in a news release Monday.

Both deputies fired shots, the sheriff’s office reported, fatally injuring Crockett, who was identified as the same person Mebane police wanted in the reported home invasion and assault, the release said.

Ashley and Chelenza were placed on administrative leave and the State Bureau of Investigation will review the incident, both of which are standard procedure in police-involved shootings. Ashley has been serving with Orange County since January 2012; Chelenza has been serving since December 2011, officials said.

The Orange-Chatham District Attorney’s Office also is investigating, sheriff’s officials said.

“We want to say that our thoughts and prayers are with the decedent’s family and friends,” Sheriff Charles Blackwood said in the release. “The loss of human life under circumstances such as this is tragic and leaves us all asking why.”

Saturday’s shooting was the third fatal shooting by Triangle law enforcement agencies in the past week.

▪ On Wednesday, Durham police fatally shot Kenneth Lee Bailey Jr. when they say he pointed a gun at officers who were trying to arrest him for violating his pretrial release curfew.

Bailey, 24, was was awaiting trial on August 2016 charges of robbery with a dangerous weapon and felony conspiracy. He also faced an indictment for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, police said.

▪ Last Sunday, a State Highway Patrol trooper fatally shot Willard Eugene Scott Jr., who was due in court Tuesday for a Dec. 12 incident in which he punched a 29-year-old woman in the face, according to an arrest warrant.

Scott, 31, was driving on Duke Street when the trooper attempted to stop him around 1:05 a.m. Sunday for a lane violation and driving erratically, according to a Highway Patrol release. After a brief pursuit, Scott got out of the car and ran. “During the foot pursuit an armed confrontation ensued,” the release said. Scott was taken to Duke Regional Hospital, where he died.

Preliminary reports show a black handgun found on the scene did not belong to the State Highway Patrol, officials said.

Scott also had been shot in the leg by a Durham police officer in 2008.

The three officer-involved shootings come as the State Bureau of Investigation continues to review the fatal shooting of Frank Nathaniel Clark, 34, in a confrontation with Durham police Nov. 22 at the McDougald Terrace public housing community.

Police had stopped to question Clark when they say he reached for his waistband, a struggle ensued and a gun went off. Police said a stolen handgun found near Clark's body did not belong to police.

Schultz: 919-829-8950