Man shot after allegedly firing at officers in Newton, police say

NEWTON, N.C. — Newton police shot a man who allegedly fired at officers late Monday night.

Police said they received a 911 hang-up call from the Catawba Pines apartments on East First Street just after 11:30 p.m.

Arriving officers found a group of people in the parking lot of the complex. While they were trying to figure out who called 911, police found a man waving a gun.

Police said the man, who they later identified as 24-year-old Keon Jemez Leach, then fired several shots at them after they asked him to drop the gun. A brief standoff ensued before officers returned fire and hit him.

Channel 9′s Dave Faherty spoke with neighbors who said they witnessed the encounter.

“I was outside, and the man told him, ‘put the gun down ... put the gun down’ and he was like, ‘I was ready to die. I was ready to die. You’re going to have to come and take me.’ And he was walking up with the gun, and they backed up, and he started shooting at them,” Daishaun Harris said.

Leach was taken to Catawba Valley Medical Center in critical condition before being airlifted to Atrium Health Medical Center in Charlotte. He is in stable condition, according to police.

Several rounds from the shootout hit cars parked at the complex. Rhylle Bruce’s front door is feet from where police first encountered the suspect.

“It was like fireworks, a hail of gunfire,” she said. “And cops tried to keep everyone as safe as they could.”

Harris shared cellphone video with Faherty that showed police taking cover behind a dumpster in the parking lot when one shot was fired.

Kasia Howell said she tried to keep her 3-year-old daughter safe in her apartment.

“I seen people running so I hurried up and grabbed the kids, my daughter and my brother’s, and made them to all go hiding in the hallway,” she said.

The Newton Police Department said the officers and deputies involved in this incident have been placed on administrative leave. The investigation into the officer-involved shooting will be handled by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations.

Leach, of Newton, will be charged with four felony accounts of assault with a deadly weapon with the intent to kill and four felony accounts of assault on a law enforcement officer with a firearm.

The SBI was there collecting evidence for more than six hours. Faherty learned part of it included body camera video from both Newton police and the sheriff’s office.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact the Newton Police Department at 828-465-7430.

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