Man faces federal charges after Gastonia police officer was shot during FBI operation

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Years of surveillance, confidential informants and undercover drug buys all led up to the confrontation and shooting that injured a Gastonia Police Department officer in north Charlotte last week.

Police were called around 6:30 a.m. to Oakburn Drive in the Oakbrooke neighborhood, off Old Statesville Road and Gibbon Road.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said it was responding to reports of shots fired in the area but that none of its officers were injured.

Officials said an FBI Safe Streets Task Force officer out of Gaston County was shot in the arm. He was taken to the hospital and is expected to be OK.

"When I got that call this morning, my heart did sink. And I was so relieved to learned it was non-life-threatening. That doesn't mean it's not serious. He's probably got surgeries. I'm just lucky he's gonna be with us," said FBI Special Agent in Charge John Strong.

Larry McConneyhead is being held in the Mecklenburg County Jail on federal charges related to the criminal investigation.

Court documents show McConneyhead is a ranking member of the Charlotte Biker Gang, a convicted felon and drug dealer accused of sealing cocaine from Mecklenburg County to Gaston County. Officials said McConneyhead has been the focus of a 2-year FBI Safe Streets Task Force investigation.

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The FBI said agents and officers were there to execute a search warrant as part of an ongoing criminal investigation.

Court documents show McConneyhead was taking trash to the curb when the FBI Task Force shouted "Search Warrant!" Agents said McConneyhead ran back inside and flushed cocaine down the toilet, but the task force broke through the door.

"He was pointing a handgun at the law enforcement team members so one of them shouted 'Gun!' resulting in one of the law enforcement officials being shot several times," the FBI said.

Sources told Eyewitness News anchor Allison Latos two officers opened fire.

CMPD confirmed one of its officers was involved in the shooting. That officer was identified as Heather Loveridge, a patrol officer that's been with the department since 2017. Police said Loveridge is on administrative leave, which is standard procedure.

Investigators said one person at the home was taken into custody but no names have been released.

Channel 9 listened to emergency traffic between officers on the scene and dispatchers during the initial chaotic moments.

"Shots fired, officer is down… still trying to figure out what's going on," one dispatcher is heard saying on Broadcastify.

"That officer that's down, he's still on scene," an officer can be heard saying. "Someone's doing aid on him right now. MEDIC has not arrived yet, so as soon as MEDIC gets here, we need to get him out of here."

Old Statesville Road was blocked in both directions near the scene.

What are Safe Streets Task Forces?

On January 9, 1992, the FBI announced the Safe Streets Violent Crimes Initiative. This initiative was designed to allow the special agent in charge of each FBI field division to establish FBI-sponsored, long-term, proactive task forces. These task forces focus on violent gangs, crimes of violence and the apprehension of violent fugitives.

SSTFs focus primarily on street gang and drug-related violence, address specific violent crime problems through the teaming of federal, state, and local law enforcement officers and prosecutors to conduct long-term, proactive investigations. In addition, the SSTFs addresses the most significant violent fugitives investigations.

Click here for more information.

Channel 9 spoke with neighbors who said they heard several gunshots before dawn.

"About 6:20 this morning we heard rapid gunfire," said Randy Johnson. "We came out the house, saw a standoff over to the left and saw the cops sitting behind the van telling them to come out with their hands up. By that time, we had to get out of here and get to work. As soon as we hit WT Harris we seen police officers just coming down the streets."

Trinette Mumford said she has lived in the neighborhood for 10 years and this is the second time something like this has happened.

"This morning about 6:15 it was about six or seven gunshots," she told Eyewitness News. "They were just like ringing off, like ‘Pow, pow, pow' just consecutively."

Mumford said her thoughts immediately went to the children in the neighborhood.

"I thought about like the kids coming to the bus stop. My daughter comes in the morning too. She just ran and was just like scared, scared and took cover," she said. "Just ducked, didn't know what was going on, and so we just got nervous this morning. It's concerning because I have a child. I send her out here to the bus stop."

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools leaders said they would be rerouting buses around the neighborhood to pick up students.

The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation and FBI are conducting a joint investigation.

There are now two open investigations, the criminal case that brought investigators to the home and the potential assault on a federal officer.

Friday was the first day that the SBI started handling all CMPD officer-involved shootings. Because CMPD was involved in this incident, the SBI is in charge of that investigation.

(WATCH BELOW: Chopper 9 Skyzoom over the scene of the shooting)

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