Journal Photo by Jennifer Rotenizer
Chief Scott Cunningham (left) listens as Officer Kaleb Mathews answers questions about the shooting Oct. 7 near Bojangles’ that killed two.
Hutchens 'a Hero': Third officer at shooting says sergeant saved him.
Officer Kaleb Mathews, on the Winston-Salem police force for only a few months, had to make the dreaded call: Two of his fellow officers had been shot.
Police detailed yesterday Mathews' role in the fatal confrontation with Monte Evans on Oct. 7 near the Bojangles' restaurant on Peters Creek Parkway.
Based on the findings of two internal investigations, Chief Scott Cunningham said, Mathews, Officer Daniel Clark and Sgt. Mickey Hutchens acted professionally and appropriately as they chased Evans into a ravine and exchanged gunfire with him at close range.
"There was no golden moment where anything the officers did could have changed the outcome," Cunningham said.
He offered a detailed timeline of the shooting, which killed Evans and Hutchens and wounded Clark. Mathews was not injured.
Mathews and Clark had stopped at Parkway Ford, just behind Bojangles', that morning to get some work done on Clark's patrol car, and they were the first to respond to a call from dispatchers.
At 10:16 a.m., Sally Evans, a manager at Bojangles', had called 911 to report that Evans, her former husband, had approached her at the trash bins behind the business. She told a dispatcher that she had taken out warrants against Evans about 10 days before, and that in the past he had pulled a gun and a knife on her.
But when she called police that day she didn't know if he was armed.
Records personnel first verified the warrants, and police Cpl. Matt Winnicki was dispatched at 10:28, Cunningham said.
Before he arrived, a Bojangles' employee pressed a panic button, and police got a second 911 call saying that Evans was in the restaurant harassing employees and customers.
At 10:32 a.m., Mathews and Clark drove into the parking lot behind the restaurant and began talking to employees at the drive-through window.
Evans left Bojangles' through the north door as Clark entered the south door. An employee pointed out Evans, and Mathews and Clark chased him toward Link Road, said Sgt. Jeffrey Stutts of the Professional Standards Division. Evans started running when he got to the Precision Tune, then doubled back toward Bojangles'. By then, employees had locked the doors.
Evans tried the north door then ran around the front of the restaurant and passed Hutchens, who had just pulled up in his squad car. As Evans headed toward Salem Creek, Hutchens backed up and got out of his car just as Evans approached the steep, brushy ravine.
Witnesses later told police that Evans had reached into his waistband at one point, and one said he thought that he saw the handle of a gun. But that information did not reach the officers before they confronted Evans at the ravine, police said.
Police Capt. David Clayton said that the officers were within a few feet of Evans when Evans turned and began firing with a .380-caliber semi-automatic pistol.
Hutchens was incapacitated by a shot to the face and never had a chance to draw his gun. Clark was struck in the chest just above the heart -- the bullet was stopped by a bullet-proof vest -- and in the right ear, with the bullet coming to rest at the back of his neck.
Clark fell backward and landed on Mathews' leg, but he was able to pull out his gun and return fire. Clayton said that Clark fired six shots. Three bullets hit Evans -- one each in the head, shoulder and chest, Clayton said.
Evans collapsed face-down in the weeds, and the gun fell to the ground inches away from his right hand.
Mathews, 28, broke into tears yesterday as he recalled what happened.
He said he was able to talk to Clark after Clark was wounded. Clark told Mathews that he had been shot in the head. Mathews tried to talk to Hutchens but was unable to get a response.
"Officer Clark's been shot one time in the side of the head," Mathews told dispatchers. "We got another officer down…. I got a confirmed subject down. He's not moving."
Mathews credited Hutchens with laying down his life in service to others.
"Sgt. Mickey Hutchens is a hero," Mathews said. "If it weren't for Mickey Hutchens, I wouldn't be standing here today."
Mathews transferred to the Winston-Salem Police Department from Lexington earlier this year and was training with Clark at the time of the shooting.
Mathews is back at work, and he said that the shooting has changed how he works. He said he has received counseling and may get more, and that the support of his fellow officers helped him make it through the ordeal.
"Emotionally, it puts a different perspective on how you view life," he said. "Life is a precious thing."
Yesterday, Monte Evans' family members echoed that sentiment, thanking God that Clark survived the shooting and congratulating him on the pending birth of his first child. They also sent their condolences to the Hutchens family, and thanked the community for helping them raise money for Evans' funeral.
"Officer Clark, we are truly sorry for the ordeal you had to endure, and we ask God to cover you with the whole shield of armor," said Azilee Majett, Evans' mother.
Evans' death has come at a particularly hard time because she has breast cancer. She had surgery two days after Evans died, and she has had several surgeries since then.
"He's in a better place," she said about her son. "I hope that with his last breath he was able to ask God to forgive him for the wrong he had done. I will be able to see my child on the other side when my time comes." The family didn't see yesterday's news conference, and wants to have a private meeting with Cunningham to get answers about what happened to their son.
Cunningham said that the State Bureau of Investigation has not completed its investigation. It is waiting for results from ballistics, toxicology and other tests. Because there will be no arrest or trial, he said, it's unlikely that the SBI will apply much urgency to this investigation.
Once its report is complete, the results will be forwarded to the Forsyth County District Attorney's Office, Cunningham email@example.com