Deputy slain in a shootout|Gunman killed by return fire

Published 8:59 am Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Community Editor

A Martin County sheriff’s deputy was killed in the line of duty Tuesday morning, and the gunman who shot him was killed by return gunfire from deputies and police officers.
Narcotics Investigator Charles “Charlie” Douglas Brown Jr., 38, was pronounced dead at Martin General Hospital shortly after being shot during a shootout with Jerry Lee Pace Jr. outside a Williamston residence, according to a joint press release issued by the Martin County Sheriff’s Office and Williamston Police Department.
The shootout occurred after a call placed to Martin County Communications at approximately 9:16 a.m. Tuesday reported that someone armed with a long gun had been seen in Williamston. Deputies and Williamston police officers responded to 1710 W. Main St. in Williamston, where they found Pace, who was armed with a long gun, outside the residence.
Williamston police officers and deputies with the Martin County Sheriff’s Office responded to 1710 West Main Street in Williamston regarding the call.
The law enforcement officers found Pace armed with a long gun outside of the residence. They issued several verbal commands to Pace, who refused to comply with those commands before he opened fire on the officers and fatally wounded Brown, according to the release. The officers returned fire, fatally wounding Pace in the exchange.
The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation has taken over the investigation of the incident, according to the release.
Martin County Manager Russell Overman was at the hospital when Brown was pronounced dead.
He said law-enforcement officers throughout Martin and neighboring counties gathered at the hospital to await news about Brown. He said there appeared to be many of Brown’s family members and friends there, too.
“It was a pretty good contingent of people,” Overman said.
Overman said that he didn’t know Brown on a personal level, adding that the narcotics officer made an impression on him the few times they worked together.
“He was the epitome of an excellent law-enforcement officer. He was very dedicated to what he was doing,” Overman said.
Brown had been a law-enforcement officer for approximately 15 years, having worked with the Williamston Police Department before becoming a deputy. Brown is survived by his wife, Cindy, and two teenage daughters.
Mark Holliday, a friend of the Brown family, said the narcotics officer was well-liked in the community.
“He was friends with everybody. He didn’t have an enemy at all,” said Holliday, who has known the Brown family for about five years.
Martin County Commissioner Mort Hurst called Tuesday a “tragic day for the whole county.”
Hurst said he knew Brown well, and that the two often joked in frequent exchanges.
“He was a good fellow, very respectful,” Hurst said.
Hurst said that a picture of Brown and other members of the sheriff’s office hangs in his office. When he found out about the shooting, Hurst said, that picture was the first thing to which he turned.
“He has a big smile on his face (in the picture),” Hurst said.
The commissioner called the sheriff’s office a “tight-knit group.”
“It’s a tragedy for not only his family, but the sheriff’s-office family,” Hurst said. “All we can do right now is pray for the family, the sheriff’s department and his friends.”
He compared the death of Brown to the murder of Martin County Sheriff Jerry Beach, who was killed in the line of duty on Oct. 12, 1992.
Beach, 57 years old at the time of his death, was shot and killed while negotiating a hostage situation at a bank in the Martin County town of Oak City.
The Oak City police chief had interrupted a robbery in progress before the bank opened, and the suspect had fired on him and taken the bank’s maintenance crew, an elderly couple, hostage, according to an incident account posted on The Officer Down Memorial Page Web site.
Beach, a hostage negotiator, responded to the scene. After calming the suspect down and bringing him the food he had requested, the Beach asked the suspect to release the hostages and take him as a hostage in their place. As Beach opened his coat to show the suspect he was unarmed, the suspect fired without provocation, striking him in the abdomen, according to the Web site.