Suspect found dead following shootout with deputies after police chase in Rowan County

ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. — Shots were fired at police officers during a car chase Wednesday afternoon in Salisbury, officials said, and the suspect was later found dead after an exchange of gunfire with law enforcement.

Authorities said sheriff’s deputies were involved in a pursuit that ended near Interstate 85 and Julian Road.


Earlier in the day, the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office learned that there was a wanted suspect, identified as 28-year-old James Edward Coe, at a home on Jacob Bost Road in Salisbury. Coe was expected to be armed and likely to run from the police, according to officials.

Investigators set up surveillance around the home and saw two masked men leave and get into a Chevy S-10 pickup truck. The passenger in the truck matched Coe’s description, the sheriff’s office said.

The truck turned onto Henderson Grove Church Road and when the vehicle made a right turn onto South Main Street, investigators tried to stop the truck for brake light and tag violations.

That was when the high-speed chase started.

A short time later, the truck wrecked, which flattened one of its front tires, near the Olive Garden on Klumac Road. The truck continued onto the onramp to I-85 southbound and when it made a rolling stop, Coe got out and shot a long gun at officers, authorities said.

A patrol vehicle involved in the chase was hit at least three times in the front passenger window and door. Two deputies returned fire at Coe, who fled into a wooded area while was still shooting at deputies, officials said.

Authorities set up a perimeter and while searching, they said they heard a single gunshot inside that area.

They then found Coe dead and deputies seized a firearm. Officials said Coe had been shot several times.

The driver of the truck, identified as 23-year-old Devin Cornwell, was arrested without incident.

The Rowan County District Attorney and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation have been contacted. The SBI will conduct an officer-involved shooting investigation.

According to the sheriff’s office, Coe had outstanding warrants for felony fleeing to elude law enforcement in a motor vehicle, reckless driving to endanger, speeding 90 mph in a 35 mph zone, no operator’s license, driving right of center, and failure to stop at a stop sign. Those charges stemmed from a separate chase with the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office on Feb. 1 in Rockwell.

Coe was also wanted in Virginia for failure to appear on a robbery charge. He had a previous felony breaking and entering of a motor vehicle conviction and was currently out on bond for possession of a firearm by a felon.

Cornwell was charged with felony fleeing to elude law enforcement in a motor vehicle. Cornwell also had an outstanding warrant for his arrest for failure to appear. He had previous felony convictions for possession of a Schedule II controlled substance, multiple breaking and enterings, larceny from person, and larceny after breaking and entering.

Cornwell was currently out on bond for possession of a firearm by a felon, resisting a public officer, possession of drug paraphernalia, and driving while license revoked.

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