CATAWBA COUNTY, N.C. - Shocking viewer video shows a state trooper speeding down Highway 321 in Catawba County, going the wrong way into oncoming traffic.
The Highway Patrol announced Tuesday that Trooper T.J. Williamson, who was behind the wheel, submitted his resignation effective immediately.
(CLICK TO WATCH: Trooper caught on camera speeding going wrong way)
The witness who shot the video told Channel 9 that the trooper was heading to a major street-racing bust.
Channel 9 first reported about the street racing arrests at 11 p.m. Sunday.
Williamson got off the River Road exit, crossed the bridge and then started heading south in the northbound lanes.
Channel 9 reporter Dave Faherty spoke to the woman who recorded the video, and she was outraged by the dangerous maneuver.
"Just freaked out,” Carisa Lynn said. “It was crazy. It was very dangerous."
(Click PLAY to watch Dave Faherty's report.)
Williamson had been employed with the NCHP since August 2016.
State troopers said they received numerous calls of the street racers endangering others along the four-lane highway, but Lynn believes the state trooper put more people at risk.
"Street racing isn't what you should be doing but it was more reckless, in my opinion, of the police officer to be driving the way he was driving, in general, to pull over some people racing,” Lynn said.
Channel 9 learned that in some cases, troopers are permitted to drive the wrong way on major highways.
Channel 9 has learned there were as many as 10 BMWs involved in the traffic stop.
(VIDEO: Photographer hangs out of car window to film alleged street racers on Highway 321)
The Highway Patrol has impounded five of those vehicles. The charges include prearranged speed racing, careless and reckless driving and impeding traffic.
"There was no racing of any sort,” said Adam Seifer, the attorney for the drivers. “They were all driving single file line, and before people pass judgment on them, I want the public to know that they weren't doing anything unsafe."
The attorney’s statement contradicts some of the calls made from other drivers who witnessed what happened and called the highway patrol.
"There's a group of what looks like souped up BMWs weaving in and out and almost caused me to wreck,” a caller told 911.
“This is just ridiculous They've about caused so many wrecks, another caller said.
Danielle Holliday made one of the calls and said the owners of the BMWs were racing at speeds approaching 100 mph.
She said others in the group would hit their brakes, stopping the traffic before the racing would start again.
"About that time, two more vehicles took off and that's when I picked up the phone and called 911 because they were about to cause some accidents," Holliday said. "It was pretty bad."
The drivers were "operating in a manner that was putting the motoring public in danger,” said Sgt. Kelly Stewart with the North Carolina Highway Patrol.
Because it is a personnel matter, the highway patrol is not commenting about the actions of Williamson.
"I'd rather him come the wrong way and stopping these guys than 14, 15, 16 vehicles going over 100 miles per hour causing an accident."
The highway patrol sent Channel 9 their policy, which says where extraordinary measures can be taken if the "need for the response outweighs the danger created and that the emergency response can be accomplished with due regard for the safety of others."
Troopers charged the following individuals:
- Brennan T. Rowe, 22, of Wayne, N.J., charged with impeding traffic & exceeding posted speed limit
- Anthony W. Obrien, 20, of Havre de Grace, Maryland, charged with impeding traffic & prearranged racing
- Hoang T. Nguyen, 44, of Allen, Texas, charged with impeding traffic & prearranged racing
- Tran Hai Phi, 26, of Jacksonville, Florida, charged with impeding traffic & prearranged racing
- Haroon Masood, 27, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania charged with impeding traffic & prearranged racing
- Tamer Arslanouk, 24, of Waynesville, New Jersey, charged with impeding traffic
- Saad Ahmed Gil, 25, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, charged with impeding traffic & prearranged racing.
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