LUMBERTON, N.C. (WNCN) — Two Robeson County sheriff’s deputies and a suspect were shot multiple times Tuesday morning, according to Sheriff Burnis Wilkins.

He said it happened in the area of Old Red Springs Road outside of Maxton.

What happened

In a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Sheriff Wilkins detailed what led to the shooting.

Around 9:28 a.m., deputies said they came to serve a warrant to Shawn Tobin Locklear Jr. for violating pretrial release. They said he had taken off his ankle monitor in September and deputies had been looking for him.

Shawn Tobin Locklear Jr. (Mug shot courtesy Robeson County Sheriff’s Office)

When Locklear saw the deputies, they said he ran into a wooded area, where deputies pursued him.

He then ran out onto a road where he was met head-on by other deputies coming at him from a different angle, according to the sheriff.

The sheriff said the deputies were looking for him and could hear him in the woods, when they spotted him behind a tree.

The deputies said they pulled their weapons and asked to see his hands.

The suspect then jumped out from behind the tree and began shooting at both deputies, according to the sheriff.

He said at least one of the deputies fired back multiple times, and that the incident was captured on body camera video.

Wilkins said the suspect was shot four or five times, Deputy Kaelin Locklear was shot at least three times in the upper body and Deputy Jonathan Walters was shot in the leg area near an artery.

He said both deputies fell to the ground, and the suspect jumped into one of their patrol cars.

The suspect then backed up and ran over Deputy Walters, breaking his leg, according to the sheriff.

The sheriff said Deputy Locklear then fired at the patrol car.

He said the suspect drove off and switched vehicles about a half mile down the road, attempting to head toward Maxton, likely toward a hospital.

Deputies said they were able to stop him on the road and arrest him. He was taken to the hospital in an ambulance.

Sheriff Wilkins said the two deputies who were shot were taken to the hospital by other deputies.

As of Tuesday evening, the sheriff said the suspect, Shawn Tobin Locklear Jr., was in critical but stable condition.

He said Deputy Walters was also in critical condition, undergoing surgery on his leg and trying to repair the artery.

According to the sheriff, Deputy Locklear was in serious condition with shell fragments found near his heart, and is expected to recover.

As of Tuesday night, both deputies were scheduled for surgery at Cape Fear Medical Center in Fayetteville.

Locklear Jr. was transported to UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill.

ATF and the SBI are investigating the shooting, the sheriff said.

‘A travesty in the system’: Sheriff reveals criminal history

Sheriff Wilkins said the suspect, Shawn Tobin Locklear Jr., has a criminal history and should not have been on pretrial release.

According to the sheriff, Locklear Jr. was arrested in connection to a robbery on March 20, 2022. He was charged with:

  • Robbery with a dangerous weapon
  • Felony fleeing alluding arrest from a law enforcement officer
  • Injury to personal property
  • Fictitious registration plates

He made bond that day.

On Nov. 29, 2022, the sheriff said Locklear Jr. committed a murder.

On May 5, 2023, he was released on bond after a judge granted him pretrial release.

“I will find out who it is,” said Sheriff Wilkins. “I am 100% disgusted by certain parts of the judicial system. “Yes, our jail is full, but I could make room for a murder suspect.”

In September, the sheriff said Locklear Jr. cut off his plastic bracelet.

He said deputies found him a few weeks ago and tried to catch him, but he got away, dropping some Glock switches to make a gun an automatic gun.

“Here we are, almost praying that we don’t have a dead deputy after what happened here today,” Sheriff Wilkins said.

“I’m not only disgusted,” he continued. “These residents on this road are disgusted. People are disgusted about what’s going on in this county. I’m sure it’s going on in the state and across the nation as well.”

Once released from the medical center, Locklear Jr. will be facing the following charges in connection to Tuesday’s shooting:

  • Attempted first-degree murder (two counts)
  • Assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious with intent to kill (two counts)
  • Larceny of motor vehicle
  • Felony hit and run
  • Possession of a weapon of mass destruction
  • Possession of cocaine
  • Felony possession of marijuana
  • Resist, delay and obstructing of a public officer (two counts)

Judge’s response

Judge Angelica Chavis McIntyre, who granted Locklear Jr. his pretrial release, provided a statement Wednesday morning. While she said she was prohibited from commenting on the “merits” of the ongoing case, she did confirm a few facts of prior proceedings.

To these points, Judge McIntyre said:

Judge Angelica McIntyre, Chief District Court Judge for Robeson County.

“Proceedings in this case occurred in April 2023, where the defendant was given a 250,000 secured bond, in addition to house arrest through the pretrial release program. Another proceeding related to bond occurred in August 2023 before a different judge. Bonds are determined by many factors, including the evidence that is presented in court by the officers, witness cooperation, if a felony report has been provided to the District Attorney’s Office, and the particular facts of every case. I feel the public’s frustration and the Sheriff’s frustration at the crime problem in Robeson County.  My judicial record shows that I have set some of the highest bonds ever set in Robeson County based on the evidence before me. After the dates of these proceedings in this case, I am grateful that North Carolina law changed effective October 1, 2023, to allow district court judges additional authority to deny bond to violent and repeat offenders as well as those on pretrial release who commit a new offense.”

The new law Judge McIntyre references is called the “Pretrial Integrity Act.” It took effect Oct. 1 after the General Assembly approved it in a bipartisan vote.

Under the law, judges have greater authority to deny bond in cases involving a variety of felonies, such as murder, rape, kidnapping, and human trafficking.

The new law also calls for judges, not magistrates, to determine conditions of pretrial release in cases where someone is accused of committing a crime while they’re already out on bond in another case.

“We were trying to get at this very kind of case,” said Rep. Abe Jones (D-Wake). “And, in my opinion, as a former judge, I think the judge has to look at the factors but err on the side of the public’s interest and the public safety.”

Law enforcement officials in Charlotte were among those who pushed for the new law.

“There’s this revolving door that has been taking place of criminals that have been getting out that probably should not have gotten out,” Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Johnny Jennings said.

When it was up for a vote in the state House of Representatives earlier this year, 30 Democrats voted against it.

Rep. Marcia Morey (D-Durham), who is also a former judge, was among those who raised concerns.

“The bill went way too far,” she said.

The law allows a defendant to be held for up to 48 hours while they wait to see a judge in cases where someone is accused of another crime while already on pretrial release. After 48 hours, a magistrate could set conditions of release if a judge has not acted by that point.

“We’re expanding that prohibition on the right to bail to many other cases,” said Morey.

Morey added that in the Robeson County case, she thinks the judge should have set a bond in the millions of dollars rather than $250,000.

“It’s an extreme case. I mean, it’s horrible. And, how someone could be out after an armed robbery, charged with a murder, and be given a $250,000 bond, I think as the sheriff said that’s unbelievable,” she said. “I think there were some mistakes of human error rather than the law was not adequate.”

County crime concerns

The sheriff said Robeson County has had 37 murders so far this year, which is a record for the county.

“That’s unbelievable. Something’s got to change. We are doing our job. We’ve proven here that we’ve arrested this guy twice. And now look what happened. Almost killed two deputies today, coming out to do their job.”

He finished the press conference by asking people to vote and do research on their candidates by accessing public information.