Suspect dead after officer-involved shooting

Published 11:01 am Thursday, March 12, 2020

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A Salisbury man is dead after exchanging gunfire with a Mocksville police officer on Feb. 29.

Ian Austin Wilson, 31, was pronounced dead at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center soon after the 4 p.m. incident.

Few details were released, and the case has been turned over to the SBI, said Mocksville Police Chief Pat Reagan. The investigation could last several more weeks before its findings are released to the district attorney.

The officer involved – who was not named – was looking for the vehicle in which Wilson was a passenger. There had been calls to 911 about a vehicle on US 601 South near Cooleemee with shots being fired from the vehicle.

The officer spotted the vehicle on US 601 South near the Mocksville Marketplace shopping center. The officer activated the blue lights and made a traffic stop on the suspect vehicle. It turned onto Southwood Drive, which runs alongside the parking lot for the new county park being constructed.

Shots were fired soon after the stop, said Major Koula Black, the police department’s public information officer. “Gunfire was exchanged.” Neither officer would comment on how many shots were fired, or where the suspect was located when he was shot.

There were several people in the vicinity, and the SBI is conducting those interviews and leading the investigation, they said.

The officer was not injured. There were three other people in the suspect vehicle, and they were not injured. They are cooperating with investigators, Black said.

The officer has been placed on administrative leave, per department policy.

The gun the suspect used had been reported stolen earlier in the day in Rowan County.

Reagan said more information will be released when the SBI investigation is completed.

He praised the work of his officer, and said they are being given the support they need.

“We believe in the training and experience of our officers to make the right decisions,” Reagan said. “We have to be diligent with every call. Those dangers are there all the time.”

Black also praised the community, especially potential witnesses, who all came forward with information about the incident and concern about the officer.

She also praised the help from other law enforcement agencies, who were on the scene quickly to help as needed.

“The officers who assisted, from our agency to other agencies, really worked together. Our officers are such a family.

“Everyone has been very cooperative,” Black said. “It is proof of effective community policing.

“We appreciate the continued support of our community as we work through this investigation. The responsibility of a law enforcement officer to serve and protect is a serious responsibility and one that our officer did not take lightly.”

She also offered condolences to Wilson’s family.

“Any loss of life is a loss to our community,” she said. “We extend condolences to the family, friends and loved ones of Mr. Wilson.”

Wilson’s record includes a couple of minor run-ins with Salisbury police. His life, according to his sister, Melody Council, had been tough.

“He was a good man,” she said. “He had a rough life growing up in the system and he battled with mental illness and losing custody of his daughter, but he was such an amazing human being. He made everyone around him smile and laugh and he loved children. All his nieces and nephews loved him so much. He loved his daughter with everything he had in him.

“He was not in his right mind at the time. I know that doesn’t excuse his behavior, but he was someone’s father, brother and son and he had a good heart,” she said.