Witnesses described chaos outside bars early Friday during a fatal shooting that involved two police officers at an entertainment complex in North Carolina’s biggest city.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said in a news release that two of its officers were working off-duty in uniform in the vicinity of the Epicentre complex of bars and restaurants when they responded to a fight involving at least two people.
The department described what ensued as an “officer-involved shooting” around 2:15 a.m. that left 33-year-old Treon McCoy dead and another person hospitalized with wounds that were not life-threatening. No officers were injured.
The shooting created chaos and drew multiple officers to the heart of Charlotte’s Uptown business district as bars were closing about 2 a.m., witnesses told WSOC-TV.
Witness Dedrick Gamble said at least one person in the crowd fired a gun, causing police to approach, and then at least one officer fired.
"When he hit the guy, the police came up behind them and the next thing you know, they was on the ground. ... Crazy. It's madness down here," Gamble said.
Another witness told the station that he saw two fighting men pull out guns and shoot at each other.
“They tumbled, stumbled, one dude was trying to get the gun off him, kept shooting the gun at the floor, ricocheting. The cops was around the corner. I heard the cops say, ‘Drop the gun,' but they kept shooting," Jose Rodriguez said.
The State Bureau of Investigation has been called in to investigate.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether the officers fired the shots that hit either person. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Capt. Brad Koch referred questions about who shot McCoy to the State Bureau of Investigation. The SBI said it was still gathering information and wouldn’t have anything to release Friday.
The department identified the patrolmen involved in the shooting as Officer Kevin Lovell and Officer Shane Mathews, each with around six years on the force. The two are on administrative leave while the investigation proceeds. The both officers are white, while McCoy was black, police said.
Department regulations allow officers to work secondary jobs at bars and other establishments while off-duty to earn extra money, though the department hasn’t said what business Lovell and Mathews may have been working for at the time. Under secondary employment rules, officers are generally required to remain outside establishments serving alcohol and must radio in their location when undertaking an enforcement action.
WSOC reports that dozens of evidence markers, including one marking a handgun, were visible behind police tape as investigators combed the scene. Streets around the scene were blocked off for several hours before reopening about 8 a.m.