MAYODAN, N.C. — Police say a man was arrested late Wednesday night after a standoff with officers at a cemetery in Rockingham County.
According to the Mayodan Police Department, officers responded shortly before 11 p.m. to a report of gunshots fired in the 300 block of South 7th Ave.
Malinda Thorton says she saw the suspect, who was later identified as Matthew Jerald Steele, moments before hearing the gunshots.
“He looked around and said, ‘Hey baby doll.’ But then I said ‘Oh God! you got a big gun.’ I said, ‘I don’t fool with those,'” Thorton said.
After the encounter, Thorton says the suspect sat on a log at the edge of her house.
“I went straight into my house and heard a big boom! Me and my cousin, my kids — we all hit the floor. I called police — didn’t know what else to do,” Thorton said.
Candice Mitchell says she also heard the gunfire.
“Pow, pow, pow, pow! It was like repeatedly, one after another,” Mitchell said.
Another witness, Brian Foddrell, said he heard six gunshots before officers arrived.
When police got to the scene, they say they learned Steele had already left and was armed with a “military-style” rifle.
Police say they were searching for Steele near the Mayodan Municipal Cemetery when he fired at them.
The suspect was arrested without further incident after a brief standoff, police said.
Steele is charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, going armed to the terror of the public, possession of a firearm by a felon and injury to personal property.
He is being held under a $9 million bond in the Rockingham County Jail.
The suspect has a criminal record that includes felony breaking and entering, felony larceny and a previous arrest for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Police went back on the neighborhood on Thursday to speak with witnesses and search for additional evidence.