Yadkin County, NC – North Carolina State Highway Patrol Trooper Samuel Newton Bullard was killed in the line of duty on Monday night, in a fiery crash as officers were pursuing a vehicle that fled a checkpoint, the agency said.
“Our SHP family is devastated by the loss of Trooper Bullard,” Colonel Glenn McNeill, commander of the State Highway Patrol, said in a press release. “We are struggling to find words that describe the hurting we feel right now.”
“Trooper Bullard died as he was fulfilling his promise to the people of North Carolina, protecting and serving his community,” Col. McNeill said.
Trooper Bullard, a three-year veteran of the North Carolina Highway Patrol, was assigned to Surry County, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
Authorities said that the incident began while Trooper Bullard and Trooper P.W. Ellis were conducting the license checkpoint in their assigned duty station, according to a press release from the North Carolina Department of Public Safety.
A black BMW failed to stop for the troopers, and then fled the checkpoint at about 10:50 p.m. on May 21.
Both troopers pursued the BMW to I-77 south into Yadkin County, but Trooper Ellis lost contact with Trooper Bullard about three minutes into the chase, so he called it off and went back to look for him.
Trooper Bullard, 24, had stopped responding to radio calls, police said.
Trooper Ellis found Trooper Bullard’s crashed patrol vehicle at mile marker 80. The trooper’s car had crashed into a bridge support on the interstate and burst into flames, according to WXII.
Trooper Ellis was unable to pull Trooper Bullard from the burning car, and Trooper Bullard was pronounced dead at the scene, WXII reported.
"It's a tough time for all of us,” SHP Sergeant Chris Knox told WXII. “We are a family in law enforcement. We are a family in highway patrol. We lost someone trying to protect the community.”
"This trooper was merely doing his job and the people responsible need to be found," Sgt. Knox added.
A manhunt is underway for the occupants of the black 2007 BMW, according to the North Carolina Troopers Association.
They have been identified as 22-year-old Dakota Kape Whitt, and 19-year-old Michaela Cheyenne Harrison. A reward has been offered for information leading to their arrest.
“My prayers are with Trooper Bullard’s family and our State Highway Patrol family,” North Carolina Department of Public Safety Secretary Erik Hooks said in a release. “Our law enforcement professionals face dangers daily in carrying out the mission to protect our communities. Throughout the department, we mourn the loss of our fallen comrade.”
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of North Carolina State Highway Patrol Trooper Samuel Newton Bullard, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Trooper Bullard, your life mattered.