HUDSON, N.C. — Caldwell County District Attorney Scott Reilly said Thursday that U.S. Marshals were justified after 28-year-old Kentrey Witherspoon was fatally shot following a standoff in December 2019.
Witherspoon reportedly opened fire on law enforcement during a traffic stop and died after a manhunt and standoff with police, authorities said.
Reilly determined there was no evidence of criminal misconduct in their actions regarding the death of Witherspoon.
Witherspoon was pulled over by Hudson police at about 4 a.m. on Dec. 19 near Optimist Avenue and Main Street in Caldwell County.
The officer called in a Caldwell County deputy for backup, authorities said. That was when Witherspoon shot at them. Investigators said several rounds struck the deputy’s vehicle. The suspect got away and a large manhunt for him began.
Witherspoon later ran into the Kincaid Furniture Plant #6 on SW Norwood Street and police swarmed the facility. Workers said he ran in during their lunch break and he was spotted by a highway patrolman.
“They just told us we needed to leave, to run,” worker Ashley Robbins said. “Run to the cop cars that were outside of the factory. My mom was still in there and my heart was racing. All I could think about was calling my mom to make sure she was OK.”
Officials said Witherspoon fired at officers for the second time as he was seen going into the plant.
Deputies said after a lengthy period of negotiations with Witherspoon, negotiations failed and U.S. Marshals engaged him, firing several shots. Authorities confirmed Witherspoon was killed after law enforcement engaged him.
It was unclear if any deputies returned fire during the traffic stop but officials said no law enforcement officers were hurt.
Prior to the standoff, North Main Street and several other roads near downtown were blocked off as law enforcement searched the area for the suspect. Much of the focus has been near First Baptist Church, which is near where police officers initially pulled over the SUV.
“I had SWAT come knock on my door as I was warming up my car,” resident Patty Coffey said. “They told me to cut it off and lock it up.”
Officials said a SWAT team along with several helicopters were called in to search the area as well.
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Hudson Elementary School, Hudson Middle School and South Caldwell High School were all placed on soft lockdowns, which means normal activity will continue inside the schools but no outside activity is allowed.
The lockdowns were eventually lifted because the search moved away from the schools.
Authorities have not said why police originally pulled the SUV over, but Faherty said there was not a tag on the back of the vehicle. Witherspoon was also wanted on warrants for kidnapping and assault on a female.
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