Charlotte Shooting: Witness Captured Video of Deadly Gun Battle

May 2, 2024
A man who lived through war in Cambodia livestreamed the shootout that erupted in his Charlotte neighborhood when a U.S. Marshals Service task force tried to serve a warrant on a resident.

By Jeff A. Chamer

Source The Charlotte Observer

Monday started as a standard day for a father and son on Galway Drive. But soon the police would be using their house for cover as they exchanged gunfire with a man marshals had wanted to arrest.

For Saing Chhoeun and his son, Jay, who live next door to 5525 Galway, the event was especially personal as police used their home as a shield and a strategic location to try and gain entry to the yard where eight officers were shot by a suspect. Four would die from their wounds.

“I feel sorry for the four officers who died,” Saing said, speaking to the Observer at his home on Tuesday, where a day earlier one of the deadliest shootouts in North Carolina law enforcement history took place in the neighborhood. “In just a couple of moments, people died right beside my house.”


On the day of the shootout, Jay was pulling into their home’s driveway a little before 1:30 p.m., while Saing was getting ready to leave for work. He said he had just started his truck when officers with a U.S. Marshals Service task force pulled up.

Before the officers arrived, Jay said he saw the suspect, Terry Clark Hughes, Jr., sitting in the side door entrance of the home next door. He didn’t really know him, he said, but would sometimes see him doing yard work.

And before Monday, they had never had issues with him, or the other people who lived in the home. They hardly spoke to each other, but were cordial when crossing each other’s paths.

But with the marshals’ arrival, Jay said, the man disappeared inside the home. Speaking into some kind of microphone, he said, the officers announced they had a warrant for the suspect’s arrest.

Jay, listening to the orders of an officer on the scene, quickly moved inside his house to hide. But Saing chose to stay outside to livestream the events as they went down.

The gunfire started a few minutes after the task force arrived, they both said.

Saing realized he was locked out of the house and his keys were in his truck’s ignition. In a nearly six-minute video he posted to Facebook, which now has over 306,000 views, Saing yells for Jay — or Jimmy as he calls him in the video — to let him in. But his son didn’t immediately hear him.

Saing is hiding behind a freezer near the back entrance of his home when officers take cover near one of his cars. When they see him, they tell him to go inside, but Saing tells them he’s locked out and has no keys. He continues to ask Jay to let him in.

The officer “told me to kick the door in,” Saing said. “I said, ‘You need to keep doing your job. Don’t worry. A bullet is not going through my freezer.’”

With his camera focused on the officers, Saing filmed as they tried to find a position to hide and aim their weapons at the home next door, choosing his car and trees in the neighboring backyard. The pops of gunfire continue to ring through the video until Jay finally hears his father and lets his father inside.

After he was inside, Saing continued to film from his home, documenting how the afternoon progressed, including when an armored vehicle maneuvered into his backyard.

Saing said he wasn’t really scared because he lived through war while growing up in Cambodia. But Jay said he found the day’s events shocking. The neighborhood is normally peaceful, he said.

“I’ve experienced similar things in other places, but not living on this street,” he said. “And nothing as severe as officers being shot at.”

The Chhoeuns, who have lived in their home for the last six years, also have family who live across the street. The family members declined to comment for this story, but Jay said officers also entered that home and had snipers aimed at the home the suspect, a woman and a teenage girl were in.

Both Jay and Saing said they were thankful for the officers who risked their lives to keep them and the neighborhood safe, as well as the officers who died.

By Tuesday afternoon, the neighborhood, comprised of mostly single-family homes, was filled with people coming to take a look at the aftermath of the shootout. Most were neighbors. Some heard about the event and wanted to get a peek.

The front of the red brick house where the now-deceased shooter holed up was almost ripped off, exposing the entrance, a bedroom, and part of the living room. A mattress, bedspread, and clothing were hanging out of the bedroom, while a military uniform, prescription pill bottles and other items were lying in the front yard.

Second-floor windows on the side and back of the house had bullet holes.

A couple bought the brick house in 2003 for $93,000, according to records from the Mecklenburg County Register of Deeds. Neither owner could be reached for comment.

But like the Chhoeuns, other neighbors who live nearby were shocked by Monday’s events.

Robin Ayscue, who lives a couple streets over from the scene of the shootout, said she was in her backyard when she heard the sounds of an automatic weapon.

“I immediately picked up my dog and got inside and locked the doors,” she said. “I had no idea what was happening. I’ve never heard that much gunfire.”

She said it was clear that more than one gun was being fired, and she thought it might have been a gang. But a neighbor told her it was police.

Ayscue heard a swarm of sirens, with 50 to 60 police cars flying down the street, as well as firetrucks and ambulances.

“I was actually surprised that more people did not get killed with as much gunfire as I heard,” she said. “I thank God that there was not even more damage than that.”

It seemed like the shooting went on for hours, but it was probably more like 20 or 30 minutes, she said. It would stop and then start back up again, Ayscue said.

She and her neighbors connected during the event. They all listened as events played out just down the road. She said it was what she imagined war sounded like.

Ayscue went to the house Tuesday morning to pay respects to the officers who died, she said, but was surprised to see the condition the home was in.

“Those men were protecting me, even two streets over,” Ayscue said. “I just wanted to really pay my respects to where they lost their lives.”

Kelly Roberts said he thought the gunshots were construction sounds at first while at his home a couple of streets over.

The neighborhood, where he’s lived the last two years, is quiet, he said. That’s why, after he realized the sound he was hearing was gunfire, he also quickly put together it must be something more serious than a drive-by shooting. The shots were going on too long.

Once he saw helicopters flying above the area, it became clearer the police were probably involved, he said.

Roberts tried to go over to the area, but it was blocked off. While waiting down the street, he heard about the injured officers. He said he felt sorry for the families impacted by incident.

“I don’t know who did,” he said. “But they were sick in the head.”

Jay and Saing Chhoeun, when not being interviewed by the press or speaking with people visiting the scene, tried to clean up their own yard on Tuesday.

Fencing, plants, and a brick patio with a wood awning had been destroyed when the armored vehicle tried passing by the side of their home. Tire tracks showed the path law enforcement took.

They said it was unfortunate to see the damage afterwards, but they also understood it was necessary. Jay said they’re working on trying to figure out how they can get help with repairs.

“We came out and looked at the aftermath and it was just crazy,” Jay said. “We didn’t ask for none of this. [Our] house nearly got destroyed.”

Observer staff writer Gavin Off contributed to this story.


©2024 The Charlotte Observer.


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