Shots fired!

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 28, 2001

That was what Greenville police officers shouted on their radios, during the chase of a burglar through the woods on the southwest side of town Thursday night.

When officers were sent to investigate an activated burglar alarm, they were not expecting to hear shots fired in their direction during pursuit of the suspect. That was however, the case and before the call was completed, a suspect was in custody.

Units from the Greenville Police Department were dispatched by E-911 at four minutes before seven to Lawson's Garage on Bolling Street, for what could very easily have turned into a catastrophe, when they were sent to a report of an activated burglar alarm.

Although police officers are trained to always think of their own safety, they are never quite prepared for the feeling one gets when being fired upon with guns. Several Greenville officers now know that feeling though, after answering that call.

"It seemed like just another foot chase after a burglary suspect, when suddenly we heard a blast from a gun, and it sounded like we were being fired upon," said Sgt. Kenny Parker.

"We didn't know where it came from, only that we heard a gunshot," said Patrolman Kenneth Hadley.

What actually occurred, officers say, was that a resident in the area of the pursuit heard neighborhood dogs barking as the officers chased the suspect through yards and a wooded area on Norvell and West Field streets.

The resident then stepped out of his back door, brandishing a shotgun, and fired it in the direction that the noises were coming from.

But the noises were coming from the same general area that the officers were in.

"We (other officers in the area) didn't know what had happened," said Patrolman Byron Russell. "We didn't know if one of us had been shot by a suspect, or exactly what had happened."

But it was a familiar sound to Second Shift Commander Garry Martin, who has over 30 years in law enforcement.

"When I heard that gunshot, my gut rolled," Martin said. "I was wondering if one of my officers had been shot, or involved in a shooting incident-I was definitely relieved when I found out that neither was the case."

Officers were able to determine that no one was injured, as others took the suspect into custody, but not without a struggle.

"Patrick Leon Peterson, 26, and of Morgan Street was arrested and charged with burglary in the third degree, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct," said Martin.

As for the man who fired the shotgun, he was quickly located and disarmed without an incident.

When asked if the man had been charged with anything, Martin said that the case was still under investigation.