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Shooter fires rifle at officer out of sunroof

Two suspects that shot at an Albemarle police officer and grazed an innocent bystander remain at large.

Albemarle police are investigating a pair of related shootings around noon Sunday. As officer Blake Evans attempted to stop a Lexus reportedly used in an earlier shooting, a suspect armed with an assault rifle popped through the car’s sunroof and opened fire at Evans on the N.C. Highway 24-27 Bypass near Taco Bell, according to police Chief Danny Bowen.

“It was pretty brazen to shoot at an officer,” Bowen said.

A stray bullet from the gunfire struck the windshield of a car on the highway as a round hit a nearby motorist. Paramedics treated him at the scene.

Shots hit Evans’ cruiser in three places, once in the windshield, once on the hood and another in the grill. The shot into the grill penetrated the cruiser’s radiator, making the car inoperable.

“He’s pretty shook up,” Bowen said of Evans. “He’s got military experience so he’s been through this kind of stuff before. He’s mad at himself because they got away.”

Officers in Montgomery County gave pursuit of the car into Moore County.

Authorities in Moore executed a roadblock in an effort to stop the suspects, but they abandoned the car prior to the checkpoint and fled on foot, police said.

Officers later recovered an AK-47 assault rifle and a shotgun. The Lexus had been reported as stolen.

A subsequent ground search ensued for the suspects, but to no avail.

Prior to the shooting at the officer, Albemarle police responded to calls of a shooting on T.E. White Drive near Elizabeth Avenue. There officers found a 2002 Chevrolet pickup truck crashed with a bullet hole in the passenger door, police said.

Shortly thereafter, a man walked up on the scene and claimed to be the driver of the truck. However, the driver refused to provide police details of the shooting, Bowen said.

“We need to give him a chance to change his mind,” Bowen said.

Witnesses of the first shooting told police the suspects were driving a black Lexus, a description shared on the police radio and when Evans attempted to make a blue-light stop.

The shooting suspect was described as a black male with dreadlocks.

Police need the public’s help with locating the suspects. For any information on either shooting, contact Albemarle police at 704-984-9500 or leave an anonymous tip at 704-984-9511.