GASTONIA, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Ranlo Police Officer Kwaku Riley Agyapon left the hospital, and authorities took him to jail on Wednesday.
He’s charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of 33-year-old Juan Avalo.
A search warrant obtained by Queen City News revealed Agyapon was off duty at the time of the incident and said the altercation between Riley and Avalo started over Avalo’s significant other.
The warrant said the officer met Avalo and his significant other during a service call to their home in November over a domestic disturbance.
Reports show Avalo traveled to New York following the disturbance. Authorities were unable to serve Avalo with an arrest warrant during that time.
However, Gaston County Sheriff’s Office records show Avalo was booked into jail on Dec. 7 and charged with assault by strangulation, assault on a female, assault with a deadly weapon, larceny, and assault with a deadly weapon with a minor present.
The search warrant states Agyapon and Avalo’s significant other stayed in touch following the domestic incident, and on New Year’s Eve, Avalo reportedly found Agyapon’s number in her phone.
“We certainly did not detect any red flags with Officer Riley’s performance over the past four months. He was an experienced officer. He had experience in other departments,” said Ranlo Town Manager Jonathan Blanton.
After finding Agyapon’s phone number, Avalo allegedly contacted him, and the two arranged to meet up to fight.
“Officer Riley suggested that they meet at the QT gas station to fight, and Avalo replied that Officer Riley knew where he lived,” the search warrant stated.
Not long after, Agyapon showed up at Avalo’s home with a gun. Authorities later determined that the gun was his service weapon.
“It was very surprising and shocking to all of us that he was there. His motives and reasons for going there remains to be unseen,” Blanton said. “This was certainly not something that we were able to detect any type of similar behavior patterns, certainly nothing of this magnitude. Very shocking. Very, very disappointed.”
Investigators responding to the scene found Agyapon suffering from a stab wound to his neck. Emergency personnel took the man to CaroMont Regional Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries that morning.
Authorities found Avalo with a gunshot wound to his head. Officers pronounced the man dead at the hospital at 5:20 a.m.
Investigators said they found Agyapon’s car, registered to his wife, still running in the roadway near Avalo’s home. Avalo’s significant other’s car was also found, still running, on the road. She told investigators she witnessed the shooting.
“We’re working to ensure that our officers are taken care of – their mental health is taken care of, their physical health is taken care of, and we’re going to continue to be transparent and honest with everyone,” said Blanton.
Authorities took Agyapon to the Cleveland County Jail. He is in custody there without bond.
Blanton also said the Gaston County District Attorney’s Office and the State Bureau of Investigation decided to charge Officer Riley with first-degree murder rather than classify the crime as self-defense reasonably early into their investigation.