Impaired Drivers Charged in 2 Afternoon Wrecks

Two men were arrested in separate DWI incidents in Chapel Hill on Monday afternoon. In each case, the drivers allegedly hit other vehicles.

Durham resident Alex Mitchell-Schwartz was arrested shortly before 2:30 after police say he ran a red light and hit a car at the intersection of Fordham Boulevard and Europa Drive. He was charged with driving while impaired, driving with a revoked license and failure to stop at a red light.

Juan Luna of Carrboro was arrested at 3 o’clock at 123 East Franklin Street. Luna allegedly struck another car and left the scene. He was charged with driving while impaired, hit and run, driving without a license and driving left of center. According to Chapel Hill police reports, his blood alcohol content registered 0.31, nearly four times the legal limit in North Carolina.

Though both incidents resulted in property damage, there were no major injuries reported. Both men were released on written promises to appear in court on September 10.

Chapel Hill, Durham Police Team Up to Solve Recent Armed Robbery Cases

***UPDATE: Duke University Police have released a sketch of the two suspects in the armed robbery on the Durham campus on Friday morning.***

Police departments in Chapel Hill and Durham are working together to solve five possibly related armed robbery cases.

Four incidents occurred Wednesday and Friday in Chapel Hill, and one happened at Duke University on Friday.

“The UNC ones were on July 22nd, toward the end of the night,” said Lt. Josh Mecimore of the Chapel Hill Police, speaking to WCHL on Friday. “And then, we had two reports of armed robberies, last night just after midnight.

“And then, I guess around 1:40 a.m. [Friday] is when Duke University had one. And the description, the M.O. the suspects are using, and even the vehicle description in each of the incidents is very similar. And so, it’s caused us to work together to realize there are similarities to help identify some suspects, see if these are related, and hopefully, bring whoever’s responsible to justice.”

Mecimore described an armed robbery attempt that occurred in Chapel Hill just after midnight Friday. According to the police report, the intended victim got away without surrendering any personal property.

“Near 1305 East Franklin St., which is sort of in the area of Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen, a 58-year-old male was walking down Franklin Street. Three black males came up from off of the trail area, kind of at the bridge over the Bolin Creek Trail – stairs up from there.

“They pointed a gun at him, told him to get on the ground. When they told him to get on the ground, he ran, and they did not pursue.”

A very short time later, a 50-year-old male reported that three black males robbed him of his cell phone at gunpoint, in the area of Elliott Road and Franklin Street.

The getaway car has been described as either a tan, gold, or white sedan. The suspects are described as black males with a dark complexion between the ages of 20 and 25. The armed suspect in Wednesday’s robberies was described as about 5’10”, with a stocky build, a rounder face and a short-fade haircut. At the time of the incident, he was wearing a dark tank top.

The second suspect was described as around 6 feet tall, with a thin build and short hair.

There was a getaway car spotted in some of the incidents, so police may be looking for four suspects.

Mecimore advises local residents to report any suspicious activity they see in their neighborhoods.

“We also encourage people, especially late at night, to travel in pairs; use public transportation where it’s available; if you’re coming back from the bars, have a designated driver that can drop you off. UNC publishes a lighting map that shows the most well-lit corridors on campus.”

If you have any information that can help police in this investigation, please call 911 or CrimeStoppers. The number in Chapel Hill is 919- 942-7515. Durham callers can use 919-683-1200.

Callers may be eligible for a cash reward if their information leads to an arrest.

Chapel Hill Police Investigate Body Found In Car

Chapel Hill Police are investigating after a man was found dead in his car at Timberlyne Shopping Center Monday morning.

Police were called the scene around 6 a.m. Officials say the cause of death has not yet been determined, but Chapel Hill Police Lt. Josh Mecimore said that foul play has been ruled out.

The man was identified as 55-year-old William Macintosh III, of Efland.

Suspect Arrested After Chapel Hill Chase

A suspect who led police on a high-speed chase in Chapel Hill and on the UNC campus has been arrested, according to authorities.

Dontay Antwann Rone

Dontay Antwann Rone

Chapel Hill police charged Dontay Antwann Rone with felony speeding to elude arrest, felony hit and run, careless and reckless driving, failure to yield to a blue light and siren, resisting arrest, and several other misdemeanor traffic charges following a pursuit that began just before 10 o’clock Friday morning.

An Alert Carolina message sent to Carolina students and faculty says that the incident began when a suspect was speeding on Highway 54, east of campus. The driver led police on a chase toward I-40, where he struck another vehicle. The driver then headed toward UNC’s campus and struck another vehicle at the corner of South Road and Country Club Drive. The driver then fled on foot but was caught at the Institute of Government Parking Deck and taken into custody by Chapel Hill Police.

Rone is being evaluated at UNC Hospitals.

Former CHPD Officer Mitchell Passes Away

Former Chapel Hill police officer Tom Mitchell has passed away.

After service 16 years on the force, Mitchell was medically retired in 2011 after being diagnosed with a brain tumor.

This December, just before Mitchell was placed into hospice care, he told his mother the only thing he wanted for Christmas was “the police department.”

Police officers from around the country responded, sending in hundreds of mementos, from patches and badges to blankets, helmets, and handcuff keys.

You can read about that here.

Longtime friend and fellow officer Eric Dallin delivered the care packages to Mitchell shortly before years end.

Mitchell passed away on Monday.  The visitation is Wednesday from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. at Bridges-Cameron Funeral Home in Sanford. The services will be held Thursday afternoon at 2 o’clock at Center United Methodist Church in Sanford.

Butner Man Arrested For Attempted Murder, Kidnapping In Chapel Hill Assault

U.S. Marshals arrested a man in Oxford on Wednesday on charges of attempted murder in Chapel Hill.

Twenty-three-year-old Terrail Laquam Hicks, of Butner, is charged with four felonies: attempted first degree murder; first degree kidnapping; assault by strangulation; and assault inflicting serious injury.

Terrail Hicks

Terrail Hicks

According to police reports, Hicks forced his girlfriend into his car outside the Pulse nightclub on East Rosemary Street shortly before 2 a.m. on Sunday morning.

He reportedly beat her, then drove her to Durham against her will. She was released somewhere in Durham, and transported by ambulance to Durham Regional Hospital for a fractured jaw, fractured orbital and lacerations.

Three days later, the U.S. Marshal’s joint fugitive task force took Hicks into police custody at a home on Sam Moss Hayes Road in Oxford. Hicks is currently being held in the Orange County Jail on $420,500 bond.

If you or someone you know needs help dealing with domestic violence in Orange County, you can contact the Compass Center for Women and Families. They operate a 24-hour hotline: 919-929-7122.

There’s also a national domestic violence hotline you can call: 1-800-799-7233.

Local Man’s No Good, Very Bad Day

A Chapel Hill man had a pretty bad day recently, which ended with him showing up on three police reports within 24 hours: Twice as an arrestee, and once as a complainant.

On March 5th, 53-year-old David Patillo was arrested for driving while impaired on Franklin Street near Estes Drive, shortly after 1 a.m. Patillo blew a .2 on his breathalyzer test.

According to Lt. Josh Mecimore of the Chapel Hill Police Department, the arresting officer originally stopped Patillo for speeding.

He was held for four hours at Orange County Jail and released without bond.

And the story continues.

“After he was released from the jail and came to pick up his vehicle the following afternoon at four o’clock,” said Mecimore, “he was cited for urinating in public, in the front parking lot of the police department.”

That was just uncalled-for.

“We have bathrooms inside,” said Mecimore.

Unfortunately for Patillo, after he was released, again, from custody, he soon found that he had a new priority No. 1 at the police station: Asking the officers for help.

“He was later the complainant in an automobile theft, where he couldn’t locate his vehicle,” said Mecimore. “It was last parked on the side of the road on Deming Road.”

The missing car is a 2001 red Mercury Sable, with the license plate CJL2622.

If you see it around town, please report it to the Chapel Hill police, and help out a guy who had a really bad day.

Chapel Hill Police To Carry Naloxone Kits

Chapel Hill Police will soon begin carrying the anti-overdose drug Naloxone.

“Most of our officers have completed training and we’re just in the process of getting the kits and putting them out for our patrol officers,” says Lieutenant Josh Mecimore.

Naloxone is an opioid-blocking nasal spray that can save the life of an overdose victim by temporarily reversing the effects of opiates, giving emergency responders a window of opportunity to get patients to the hospital for treatment.

Carrboro Police have carried the kits since October, and in that time, officers have used it twice to revive overdose victims.

You can read more on those incidents here.

Across North Carolina, there has been a more than 300 percent increase in opioid overdose deaths since 1999, according to the state Center for Health Statistics.

Last year, 86 people in Orange County were hospitalized due to overdose.

Carrboro Police Captain Chris Atack says his department has seen that prescription pain killers are a growing local problem.

“We have known for years that there has been a prescription drug abuse problem” says Atack. “We have been involved with other agencies, Chapel Hill specifically, for drug take-back activities, so there’s been an awareness on the law enforecment side that this is a real issue.”

While the total number of opiate overdose deaths in Orange County is small, Health Department Program Manager Meredith Stewart says it is on the rise.

An average of 3.5 out of six poisoning deaths was attributable to prescription opiates a decade ago. Now, that average has risen to seven out of ten poisoning deaths for the past three years.

Fundamentally, Stewart says any number of preventable deaths is too much.

“There are still people in Orange County dying and, really, one person is too many because we do have effective methods like naloxone to use when an overdose is actually happening,” says Stewart.

The Health Department also offers naloxone kits to Orange County residents so friends and family members of those with a history of opiate abuse can have the rescue drug on hand.

Silver Alert: Police Seek Missing Man, 60

Chapel Hill Police are seeking a missing man, 60-year-old Scott Montgomery Gibson.

The NC Center for Missing Persons issued a Silver Alert earlier this week for Gibson, who was last seen on Deming Road, just off Franklin Street between downtown and Estes Drive.

Gibson is a 60-year-old white male, 6 feet tall and 150 pounds, with gray hair, brown eyes and glasses, last seen wearing a brown leather jacket, one white and one black leather glove, driving a white 2003 four-door Lincoln sedan with Texas license plates. He may be headed for Plano, Texas.

If you have information about Scott Gibson, contact Chapel Hill Police at 919-612-8240.

Chapel Hill Police Buy 40 Rifles To Equip Patrol Cars

In a recent memo to the Town Council, Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue says the police department purchased 40 rifles to meet a long-standing goal to have a rifle available in every patrol vehicle.

The purchase was made using federal drug seizure funds and will not come out of the department’s operating budget.

Chapel Hill police officers are already armed with handguns, but Blue notes there may be times when those are not sufficient. He writes:

“We learned during the Wendell Williamson shooting that handguns are largely ineffective when an assailant is equipped with a rifle, as the range and accuracy of a handgun is significantly inferior to that of a rifle. The potential for such an event to happen again in our community is real.”

Blue says all officers must successful qualify with the rifle before being allowed to carry one.

There are only a handful of situations in which officers are authorized to use rifles.

These include when someone has been taken hostage or a suspect is barricaded, when officers have reason to believe a suspect who poses an immediate threat is wearing body armor, or when officers face a “threat of deadly force” from someone with a weapon.

The department’s use of force policy mandates that any incident of pointing or discharging a weapon be reported to the Chief of Police and investigated. The town’s Community Policing Advisory Committee will review the department’s policies regarding rifles in the near future.

Here’s the full email from Chief Blue:

This message is to provide information to our Council about our recent acquisition of 40 patrol rifles. 

As you know, we have had a handful of rifles in our inventory for some time. Their use and deployment are strictly regulated by policy. We have had a long-standing goal to have a rifle available in each patrol vehicle so each of our officers on patrol would have immediate access to one, if needed. However, we have not had enough rifles in inventory to achieve this goal, which means that an officer could respond to a situation where a rifle is necessary to save lives but not have one available to him/her. Through the use of federal drug seizure funds, we have recently acquired enough rifles to have one available in every patrol car so all patrol officers will have access to one. This acquisition has no impact on our operating budget.

We require that all patrol officers successfully qualify with the rifle prior to carrying one. All of our existing policies that regulate rifle deployment, qualification, and documenting use of force will apply. Consistent with their charge, I will engage our Community Policing Advisory Committee in a review of the applicable policies to ensure that we acknowledge and consider any community impacts.

Our current weapons policy allows rifles to be deployed if one or more of the following situations exist:
-The officer reasonably believes deployment is necessary to counter the imminent threat of deadly force by a person possessing a weapon
-A person has been taken hostage or someone is barricaded 

-The officer reasonably believes a suspect, who poses an imminent threat of harm, is wearing body armor
-Activation of the Special Emergency Response Team
-Other unique situations at the direction of a supervisor

Our use of force policy also requires that any pointing or discharge of a weapon, whether intentional or accidental, be reported immediately in writing to the Chief of Police through the officer’s direct supervisor and then is investigated pursuant to our normal policies and procedures.

Our officers must be prepared and equipped to respond to dangerous situations where they may be overwhelmed by the amount of force confronting them and where their body armor may be insufficient. We take this responsibility very seriously. We learned during the Wendell Williamson shooting that handguns are largely ineffective when an assailant is equipped with a rifle, as the range and accuracy of a handgun is significantly inferior to that of a rifle. The potential for such an event to happen again in our community is real. It is incumbent upon us to provide our officers with the training, equipment, and support to respond to such events with confidence and the tools they need to keep our community (and themselves) safe.

Please let me know if you require additional information.

Chris Blue
Chief of Police