News Roundup

The lead story in our December 9 news roundup was the Moore County power outage that resulted from the shooting of two local power substations. This week, several news outlets reported that another North Carolina power substation appears to have been damaged by gunfire. This time the damage occurred in Randolph County, was quickly contained, and no customers lost power. Local and federal authorities are investigating the incident.

Speaking of gunshots, CNN reports that New Mexico authorities have arrested a man who lost an election for a seat in the state legislature for allegedly hiring and conspiring with four men to shoot at the homes of state legislators and county commissioners. The suspect, Solomon Pena, is a Republican, and the alleged victims are Democrats. Fortunately, no one was injured in the shootings, though police say that at least one bullet entered a child’s bedroom. Following the election Pena had reportedly approached a state senator and county commissioners at their homes with paperwork claiming elections fraud. Pena, who is currently being held without bail, is no stranger to incarceration, having previously served a seven-year prison term for theft.

From guns to tasers. The News & Observer reports that a person died Tuesday morning after officers from the Raleigh Police Department used a stun gun to apprehend him. The officers reportedly were on patrol when they saw a suspicious vehicle and decided to arrest a person associated with the vehicle. The police chief says the suspect ran and resisted arrest and a taser was used. In reporting on the story, CNN noted other recent incidents in which people died after being shocked with stun guns, including the 2021 death of a man suspected of stealing a bicycle in Pittsburgh and the 2022 death of an Indianapolis man who was tased during a disturbance call.

State auditor charged with hit and run. Beth Wood, the four-term North Carolina State Auditor, has been charged with misdemeanor hit and run for allegedly striking a parked vehicle in downtown Raleigh on the evening of December 8, 2022 and leaving the scene. The News & Observer obtained a police report stating that Wood was driving a state-owned 2021 Toyota when she “overrode up onto the hood” of the parked car. The engine of the state car was running when police arrived, but the driver appeared to have fled.

Not your everyday vehicle chase. On Tuesday, Boone police officers used stop sticks and ultimately had to shoot out the tire of a stolen vehicle being driven erratically on a state roadway. What makes this case news-roundup-worthy is that the vehicle was a John Deere tractor. And the chase wasn’t exactly high-speed as speeds remained in the 20 miles per hour range during the 9 mile and hour-long pursuit. Nevertheless, the driver did a fair amount of damage, hitting several vehicles and ramming a dumpster into a church.

In the words of the man who filmed this video of the incident:  “Why?  Like, why?”

Boone Police Chief Andy LeBeau acknowledged in a post-pursuit discussion with North Carolina Rabbit Hole that, while the circumstances were challenging and not at all humorous in the moment, the tractor chase will likely live on in law enforcement lore.