Field Narrowed in Search for Durham Police Chief

The pool of candidates to become the next Durham police chief has been cut from 42 to 14, according to city officials.

The department is searching for its next leader to succeed Jose Lopez, who retired at the end of 2015.

The department has been subject to criticism under the leadership of Lopez after incidents that heightened tensions among the community, including the death of 17-year-old Jesus Huerta, who died while in police custody in late 2013.

Huerta died from a gunshot wound while handcuffed in the back of a police cruiser. Authorities say it was self-inflicted.

Criminal charges were not filed in the incident, which led to protests by the community.

The 14 candidates being considered for the next chief will move forward in the application process. City manager Tom Bonfield says the field of applicants was narrowed last week.

“Even though we’re at this stage, community input will still be important going forward, and we encourage the public to take advantage of the opportunities to share their thoughts, including the surveys and forums,” Bonfield said in a statement.

A release says the 14 remaining candidates will now go through a more extensive screening process, which will include a telephone interview and writing exercises. Bonfield says those actions will take place over the next two weeks.

The applicant field will then be trimmed further and the remaining candidates will be selected to participate in an assessment center, which is scheduled for February 29 through March 1. The top “two-to-three finalists” will then meet with police department staff and the public in late March.

Officials are still seeking public input through an online survey in English and Spanish.

A forum will also be held and conducted entirely in Spanish at 2:45 on Sunday afternoon at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, located at 810 W. Chapel Hill St.

It is expected that the final candidate will be offered the position in early April and begin in May.

Durham Man Charged in Flare Gun Shooting

Durham Police are looking for an individual after a man was shot in the face with a flare gun at a Panera Bread on Tuesday.

Investigators have charged 53-year-old Todd Newland Pope with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill.

Police say the victim and the suspect know and other and the incident does not appear to be random.

Pope is not in custody at this time.

Anyone with information as to Pope’s whereabouts is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (919) 683-1200. Crime Stoppers pays cash rewards for information leading to arrests in felony cases and callers can remain anonymous.

Man Shot in Face with Flare Gun in Panera Bread Bathroom

Durham Police say a man was shot in the face with what appears to be a flare gun in the bathroom at a Panera Bread on Tuesday morning.

Police say two men got into an argument inside a bathroom at the Panera Bread on Witherspoon Drive and one shot the other in the face.

The victim was taken to the hospital for treatment of serious injuries, according to authorities.

Police say investigators are still speaking with witnesses.

No charges have been filed at this time.

Durham Police Arrest 8 In Anti-Gun Violence Campaign

Durham Police have announced that eight arrests have been made as part of an initiative focused on a string of violent gun crimes in late 2015 and early 2016.

Authorities say Durham saw a 47 percent decrease in non-fatal and fatal shootings from January 7 through January 31, 2016, when compared with the period from December 13, 2015, through January 6. Durham saw homicides nearly double in 2015.

Durham Mayor Bill Bell joined Interim Police Chief Larry Smith and Sheriff Mike Andrews on January 7 to call for an end to the gun violence.

“It’s not going to be tolerated. We don’t tolerate it. We’re going to put a stop to it,” Bell said at the press conference.

Law enforcement identified 19 individuals who were believed to be connected with the stretch of violent crime. Officials announced the arrests of eight of those 19 individuals, on Tuesday.

“We are still working closely with the community to reduce violent crime and we appreciate the assistance we have received,” said Smith.

Community members have been calling for more consistency from law enforcement.

Police say officers from several units have been focused on the identified people of interest and those who have been arrested face charges ranging from failure to appear in court up to murder.

Those arrested are 33-year-old Terence Deyon Foster, 27-year-old Andre Dewayne Johnson, 25-year-old Deshawn Bailey, 23-year-old Messiah Gattis, 21-year-old Lamonte Colbert, 22-year-old Michael Gill, 16-year-old Najay Peace and 20-year-old Keon Deloatch.

Foster was arrested January 5 and is facing charges of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, failure to appear on earlier charges and a parole violation. He was placed in the Durham County Jail with no bond and was later transferred to Central Prison in Raleigh.

Johnson was arrested on January 6 and charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to manufacture, sell or deliver, two counts of possession of cocaine, possession of drug paraphernalia and resisting, delaying and obstructing a government official. Johnson was arrested while he was out of jail on bond for prior charges of trafficking in Schedule 1 controlled substances and other charges. Johnson was released from prison after posting a $100,000 bond.

Bailey was arrested on January 6 for failure to appear on a traffic charge. He posted a $1,500 bond.

Gattis was arrested on January 7 after a standoff at an apartment on Junction Road. Gattis is charged with injury to property, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, carrying a concealed weapon, going armed to the terror of the public, discharging a firearm from an enclosure, 10 counts of discharging a firearm within the city limits and resisting, delaying and obstructing an officer. Gattis was released pending indictments.

Colbert was arrested on January 8 on outstanding common-law robbery, communicating threats and larceny charges. Colbert remains in jail under a $6,500 bond.

Gill was arrested on January 8 on an outstanding probation/parole violation. He was placed in the Durham County Jail under no bond and later transferred to the Polk Correctional Facility.

Peace was arrested on January 14. He is facing charges of possession of a stolen vehicle and resisting, delaying and obstructing a government official. He was released from prison after posting a $7,500 bond and was arrested January 15 and charged with felony larceny of a vehicle. Peace then posted $15,000 bond and is currently out of jail.

Deloatch was arrested on January 20 and charged with murder in connection with a January 4 shooting death. Deloatch was placed in the Durham County Jail with no bond.

UNC PhD Candidate Arrested on a Slew of Narcotics Charges

A PhD candidate at UNC has been arrested by Durham authorities for a series of narcotics charges.

Officials say 26-year-old Gary Lewis Cantor, of Kipling Way in Durham, has been charged with felony crimes including manufacturing controlled substances and possession of controlled substances with the intent to sell or deliver them.

Drugs seized. Photo via Durham Sheriff's Office.

Drugs seized. Photo via Durham Sheriff’s Office.

Authorities say a search warrant was obtained based in part on complaints of the odor of marijuana coming from Cantor’s residence.

Once inside, officials say they seized over 2,700 tablets believe to be Xanax, approximately 280 grams of marijuana, over two dozen vials of a substance believe to be anabolic steroids, and a device used to manufacture tablets.

Anyone with additional information about this investigation or other drug-related criminal activity in Durham County is asked to call the Sheriff’s anonymous crime tip line at (919) 560-0940.

Durham Sheriff’s Office Arrest 21 in Narcotics Investigation

The Durham County Sheriff’s Office has announced the arrests of 21 individuals as part of a five-day narcotics sting.

Authorities say that during Operation Sticker more than a dozen officers were deployed during each mission.

The unit made 21 arrests and recovered six firearms, according to a release.

The operation included 59 vehicle stops. Suspects in two cases attempted to elude officers.

Officials say the Anti-Crime and Narcotics Unit made contact with two known gang members with prior murder charges during the initial mission.

Two gang members with alleged ties to Durham and Charlotte were arrested after a pursuit that led officers into Alamance County, according to law enforcement.

The unit served 38 felony arrest warrants, according to police, and executed six search warrants that resulted in the seizure of 112 dosage units of crack cocaine, 27 grams of powder cocaine, 559 grams of marijuana and two grams of heroin.

Officials say no officers were injured as part of the operation.

Precipitation Over But Roads Still Icy

Communities across our area are continuing to deal with wintry weather and the challenges that presents.

Chatham, Durham and Orange Counties will be under a Winter Weather Advisory until noon on Sunday due to the threat of black ice, as forecasts are not calling for additional precipitation.

Power outages were concentrated from Raleigh to the east and knocked power out to tens of thousands of North Carolinians. But other than periodic individual outages, Chatham, Orange and Durham Counties were not impacted by widespread outages.

Chapel Hill officials reported responding to three vehicle accidents during the day on Friday but noted that residents were staying off the road for the most part on Saturday. Residents are continued to be encouraged to not park on roadways to allow for plows to clear the thoroughfares.

Crews are evaluating to determine if Chapel Hill Transit will be able to operate on Sunday. Community centers are expected to open at 12:30 Sunday afternoon, but the aquatic center will likely be closed on Sunday.

Due to the inclement weather, Orange County Public Libraries will continue to be closed on Sunday.

Hillsborough officials reported an estimated 10 vehicles being left on roadsides. Two vehicles abandoned in the roadway along West King Street and Lakeshore Drive were moved.

Police continue to ask residents to stay off the roads. “If you don’t have to go out, don’t,” advises Sgt. William Parker. “If you do and your vehicle gets stuck, don’t leave it in the middle of the road.”

Durham reported the highest number of accidents with 40 crashes being responded to on Friday.

Three Men Arrested On Murder Charges

Three Durham men have been arrested in connection with three recent homicides.

Robert Bernard Jackson, 34, and Charles William Willis, 27, were arrested Thursday morning in Baltimore, Maryland by the Marshals Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force.

Jackson and Willis are both charged with murder in connection with the December 19, 2015 murder of 58-year-old Mohamed Thabet Shoufar at the Buy Quick convenience store at 419 South Briggs Avenue.

Shoufar was shot at the business and died later at the hospital.

Jackson and Willis both face charges of robbery with a dangerous weapon and conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon in connection with this incident.

Jackson and Willis are also both charged with murder in the January 3 murder of 20-year-old Nicholas Bell on Ashe Street. Bell was found shot to death in the woods behind a house in the 2800 block of Ashe Street.

The two are currently in jail in Maryland.

Keon Irving Deloatch, 20, of East Main Street was arrested Wednesday evening in the 900 block of East Main Street.

Deloatch is charged with murder in the January 4 shooting death of 37-year-old Latonya Denise Morris of Durham.

Morris was shot as she was walking near the intersection of East Main Street and Elm Street. The incident does not appear to have been random, according to investigators.

Deloatch is in the Durham County Jail and is being held without bond.

Durham Police Investigating Hit and Run

Durham Police are asking for public assistance locating a vehicle involved in a hit-and-run accident on Monday.

Police say a man was found in the road near the intersection of Avondale Avenue and Howard Street just before 2:30 Monday morning.

The victim was transported to the hospital with serious injuries, according to officials.

Authorities say the vehicle, described as a silver minivan, left the scene of the accident.

Anyone with information is asked to call CrimeStoppers at (919) 683-1200. CrimeStoppers pays cash rewards for information leading to arrests in felony cases and callers never have to identify themselves.

Three Charged with Robbing Durham Convenience Store Twice

Durham Police have charged three men with robbing the same convenience store twice at gunpoint in 2015.

Investigators charged 19-year-old Osman Joel Calderon-Juarez, 18-year-old Jose Daniel Cartenga-Juarez and 20-year-old Michael Yoel Maldonado-Madrid, all of Durham, with robbing the Morehead Mini Mart on Morehead Avenue.

Jose Cartenga Juarez. Photo via Durham Police

Jose Cartenga Juarez. Photo via Durham Police

Police say the convenience store was robbed on November 23, 2015, and on New Year’s Eve.

The suspects took cash, lottery tickets and a phone, according to authorities.

Officials say all three men are facing two counts of robbery with a dangerous weapon, two counts of felony conspiracy, three counts of assault by pointing a gun, six counts of obtaining property by false pretense and six counts of possession of stolen goods.

Osman Calderon Juarez. Photo via Durham Police.

Osman Calderon Juarez. Photo via Durham Police.

Authorities say the trio is also facing robbery charges in Morrisville.

Two of the suspects, Calderon-Juarez and Cartenga-Juarez, are in custody. Calderon-Juarez is being held under a $1 million bond, while Cartenga-Juarez is facing a $750,000 bond.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Maldonado-Madrid is asked to contact Investigator Guardino at (919) 560-4583, ext. 29364 or CrimeStoppers at (919) 683-1200. CrimeStoppers pays cash rewards for information leading to arrests in felony cases and callers never have to identify themselves.