An N.C. Highway Patrol officer from the Twin Counties was killed on duty Saturday morning while trying to set up stop sticks during a chase on U.S. 64, authorities said.
Trooper Bobby G. DeMuth, a native of Edgecombe County who was stationed to work in Rocky Mount, was struck by a vehicle fleeing law enforcement officials. The vehicle did not stop afterward, but continued on U.S. 64 to where the highway intersects with Interstate 95, troopers said. The vehicle crashed, and the driver fled. Authorities later apprehended a suspect – 40-year-old Christopher McCoy Rodgers of Williamston.
Raleigh police Public Affairs Specialist Laura Hourigan said the chase stemmed from an assault and robbery just after midnight on the 5400 block of Morning Creek Way in Raleigh. According to a press release, the suspect forced his way into a woman’s apartment then restrained her and her 21-month old child before barricading them into a room. The suspect stole the woman’s ATM card then fled the scene, police said.
The victim was able to free herself, flee to a friend’s house and report the crime, police said. Investigators determined Rodgers used the card on the 800 block of South New Hope Road and obtained warrants against him for burglary, common law robbery, two counts of kidnapping, assault on a female, assault on a child and obtaining property by false pretense. Officers were given a description of Rodgers’ 1995 Nissan 200SX and when an officer said he saw the car near New Hope Road and Rogers Lane, he called for backup, police said.
Hourigan said when additional units arrived, officers attempted to stop Rodgers near the intersection of U.S. 264 and U.S. 64 near Wendell. Rodgers refused to stop and additional law enforcement agencies joined the pursuit, which continued into Nash County.
“The suspect exited on N.C. 231 and traveled across the bridge before going down the off-ramp,” N.C. Highway Patrol First Sgt. Jeff Gordon said. “The suspect went east in the westbound lanes of U.S. 64. Two troopers attempted to deploy stop sticks in his direction, but DeMuth was struck by the suspect’s vehicle.”
Stop sticks are designed to blow out the tires of a vehicle. DeMuth died at the scene, Gordon said.
Gordon said charges are pending against Rodgers, 40, of Williamston, but refused to comment on what charges will be filed. The investigation is ongoing, and U.S. 64 is expected to be closed at least through 5 p.m. today.
DeMuth was a 12-year veteran of the Highway Patrol who was stationed at the Rocky Mount, Troop C District 1 Highway Patrol Office.
Staff writer John Henderson contributed to this report.