NC trooper pulled driver over for speeding before fatal shooting

— A North Carolina State Highway Patrol trooper was shot and killed while conducting a traffic stop Wednesday in Columbus County near the South Carolina line, authorities said.

According to Larry Guyton with the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office, the shooting took place just south of Whiteville on U.S. Highway 701, near Sellers Town Road.

Trooper Kevin Conner stopped a white GMC pickup at about 12:15 a.m. that was speeding on U.S. 701. The truck pulled over, and when Conner approached the vehicle, someone inside fired multiple shots, authorities said.

Connor, an 11-year veteran of the Highway Patrol assigned to Columbus County, was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

The gunman fled the scene, but the pickup became stuck on nearby railroad tracks. A foot chase then pursued, and officers arrested him four hours later near a wooded area in Fair Bluff.

His name hasn‘t been released, but he will have an initial court appearance Wednesday afternoon in Columbus County.

Local police departments were expressing their condolences for the Highway Patrol‘s loss Wednesday morning, and a group of state troopers met at a staging site in Fair Bluff to mourn the loss of one of their own.

“The Highway Patrol family is mourning the loss of a hero and will forever be changed by the tragic events that have occurred,” Col. Glenn McNeill Jr., commander of the patrol, said in a statement. “We ask everyone to please keep Trooper Conner’s family and all who knew him in your thoughts and prayers.”

“This is not something we take very lightly. It is a constant the reminder of the dangers and perils law enforcement encounter every day,” patrol spokesman 1st Sgt. Michael Baker said.

when he extinguished a car fire while saving a driver involved in a crash in Whiteville.

“We extend our deepest sympathy to Trooper Conner’s family,” Public Safety Secretary Erik Hooks said in a statement. “Trooper Conner was killed while protecting and serving his community. We mourn our loss and will continue to support his family. We are grateful for his service and honor the men and women who serve in harm’s way, each and every day.”

Gov. Roy Cooper released a statement Wednesday saying, “The tragic loss of Trooper Kevin Conner of the NC State Highway Patrol weighs heavily on our hearts. We are forever grateful for his devoted service and selfless commitment to protecting the people of North Carolina. Our prayers are with his family and friends and his colleagues in law enforcement.”