No one expects to wake up any given morning and find out there’s been a shootout in your community, but should it happen, as it did here last Monday, one should be thankful you have diligent and hard-working public servants on the job and handling the situation.
We certainly did.
From the moment the call came in that a gun battle had occurred on N.C. 24 coming into Clinton city limits, causing a horrific wreck near Westover Avenue, local law enforcement, city officials, fire and rescue personnel and DOT crews were on the scene and working to make the best out of a really, really bad situation.
Quite frankly it looked like a war zone, with debris and evidence strewn across four lanes of travel, one vehicle a pile of mangled metal, the other sideways in the road, its door ripped away, a utility pole and its lines dangling precariously above the entire mess.
But as disturbing as the scene appeared, there was comfort in knowing that so many local authorities were on the scene piecing together what had unfolded and working to find those who’d caused the incident which sent two innocent travelers to the hospital as well.
Although it was early and a holiday, at the scene, in addition to investigators working the case, were Mayor Lew Starling, city manager John Connet and police Chief Jay Tilley. And they weren’t just casual observers, either. They were manning phones, running to get supplies officers needed and working with highway officials to devise a plan to get traffic routing around the crime scene.
Sampson County Sheriff’s officers, State Bureau of Investigation agents, N.C. Highway Patrol troopers and DOT workers joined the effort, helping to make what could have been complete chaos a bearable situation. While traffic was backed up along detours, it moved at a steady pace thanks to the diligence of those positioned to keep the flow going.
Our hat is off to them all for a job well done in the face of what could have been insurmountable odds.
We especially need to sing the praises of Clinton police and Tilley who kept control of the situation from the moment they arrived on scene, gathering evidence and making the first arrest in less than 48 hours after the incident occurred.
It is easy to take for granted all these people who came together Monday morning to ensure a terrible situation was handled as delicately, expediently and professionally as possible. We assume it’s merely their job. But everyone on the scene Monday and since have gone above and beyond their call of duty, and that is something that residents of Clinton and Sampson County can take great pride and comfort in.
Our thanks to them all for jobs well done.