Gov. Cooper orders flags to fly at half-staff to honor slain NC state trooper

COLUMBUS COUNTY, N.C. — Authorities have arrested 20-year-old Raheem Cole Dashanell Davis in connection with the murder of North Carolina Highway Patrol Trooper Kevin K. Conner.

(Raheem Cole Dashanell Davis)

Conner was shot and killed early Wednesday while conducting a traffic stop in the southeastern part of the state, according to the Department of Public Safety.

We first updated WSOCTV news app users with a notification just after 5:45 a.m. Wednesday that the trooper had been killed and the suspect was captured.

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North Carolina State Highway Patrol Sgt. Michael Baker said the trooper was shot just after midnight while conducting a traffic stop on U.S. 701 near Sellers Town Road in Columbus County.

Baker said at around 12:15 a.m., Conner stopped a white GMC pickup truck for a speeding violation on rural U.S. 701. The driver of the truck, Davis, pulled over onto the shoulder and fired several shots as the trooper approached.

"The driver of that vehicle fired several shots, striking the trooper," Baker told reporters at a briefing Wednesday morning.

Conner was taken to a hospital, where he died.

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Baker said Davis headed about 20 miles west to Fair Bluff near the South Carolina state line, where he was pursued by police. The truck became disabled on railroad tracks in the town, and he fled on foot. Authorities said Davis was arrested without incident around 4 a.m. after an extensive search.

He was taken to Columbus County Jail and charged with first-degree murder. The district attorney said Davis was driving a stolen truck when he was pulled over.

He is being held without bond and faces the possibility of the death penalty or life in prison without parole.

“The Highway Patrol family is mourning the loss of a hero and will forever be changed by the tragic events that have occurred”, said Colonel Glenn McNeill Jr., commander of the State Highway Patrol.  “We ask everyone to please keep Trooper Conner’s family and all who knew him in your thoughts and prayers.”

Conner was an 11-year veteran, assigned to Troop B, District 5 in Columbus County.

“We extend our deepest sympathy to Trooper Conner’s family”, said Public Safety Secretary Erik A. Hooks. “Trooper Conner was killed while protecting and serving his community. We mourn our loss and will continue to support his family. We are grateful for his service and honor the men and women who serve in harm’s way, each and every day.”

WRAL-TV reported that Conner was credited with helping save lives after a 2011 fiery head-on crash in Columbus County. The station reported Conner used an extinguisher to put out flames and that he and another trooper provided first aid while waiting for paramedics.

Condolences for the trooper poured out from a number of law enforcement agencies on social media. Baker said the patrol was asking that people keep the trooper, his family and the entire organization in their prayers.

"We are definitely grieving as a result of our loss," he said.

"Many will say he was the nicest guy you would ever meet and the ones that knew Kevin and family would agree," the nearby Bladen County Sheriff's Office said on Facebook.

Gov. Roy Cooper ordered flags to fly at half-staff to honor Conner. His office also released the following statement:

"The tragic loss of Trooper Kevin Conner of the NC State Highway Patrol weighs heavily on our hearts. We are forever grateful for his devoted service and selfless commitment to protecting the people of North Carolina. Our prayers are with his family and friends and his colleagues in law enforcement."

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