HIGH POINT — A Davidson County deputy in plain clothes fired a shot that resulted in the death of an 18-year-old man during a drive-by shooting outside of a church earlier this month, authorities said.
Officers found Fredrick Cox Jr. of High Point dead from gunshot wounds after responding to what police called a "violent and brazen crime" at Living Water Baptist church on Nov. 8. Mourners had gathered at the church at 1300 Brentwood St. for a funeral when shots were fired from two vehicles while people left the service, according to police.
The gunfire at 3:30 p.m. sent mourners into an immediate panic, police said Wednesday in a news release. High Point police spokesman Lt. Matthew Truitt said some gang members were attending the funeral of a deceased gang member when opposing gang members opened fire on them.
Witnesses told police that the shots were fired from at least two four-door vehicles, a dark gray Dodge Charger and a white sedan. High Police police contacted the State Bureau of Investigation and requested it lead the investigation with assistance from High Point detectives until the extent of the deputy's involvement was established, police said.
According to the SBI, the funeral was for 18-year-old Jonas Thompson, whose body was found in a field in Davidson County in late October. The deputy was investigating Thompson’s murder and attended the funeral at the request of Thompson’s family, the SBI said. The deputy, whom authorities have not identified, was in the parking lot of the church when the drive-by occurred.
When the deputy heard the gunfire, he began ushering people to safety, police said. The deputy fired his weapon after coming into contact with Cox, who was also attending the funeral, and saw him with a handgun, the SBI said. Other witnesses said they saw a handgun near Cox after he was shot, according to the SBI.
So far, investigators have learned that approximately 70 rounds were fired during the incident and shell casings were recovered from four different caliber weapons. Due to the amount of gunfire, police said the incident was treated as three different scenes.
Truitt said the delay in releasing the latest information was because authorities needed to be 100% sure the deputy was involved, which had to be confirmed through an autopsy and an investigation by the SBI. The confirmation came Tuesday and had to be approved by the SBI before being released. The family also had to be notified of the new details beforehand, Truitt said.
The SBI will handle all aspects of the investigation related to the deputy’s firearm discharge, police said.
The police department said it will continue focusing on the individuals who started the incident and who participated in the criminal events prior to and after the death of Cox in accordance with North Carolina’s felony murder rule. That rule allows people to be charged with first-degree murder if the killing occurs during the commission of a dangerous felony.
Anyone with information related to this investigation is asked to contact Detective Knight at 336-887-7864 or Crime Stoppers of High Point at 336-889-4000. People can also download the P3 mobile app for IOS or Android to submit a tip.
Contact Jamie Biggs at 336-373-4476 and follow @JamieBiggsNR on Twitter.