Trooper: Suspect stole guns from mom’s home before Jonesville shooting, standoff

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JONESVILLE, N.C. -- The suspect in a shooting and police standoff at a motel in Jonesville has been arrested.

The incident, which occurred at the America's Best Value Inn off I-77, shut down the interstate shortly before 7:15 a.m. 

Around 9:45 a.m., the suspect surrendered and authorities reopened the interstate to traffic. 

Yadkin County Sheriff Ricky Oliver identified the suspect as 37-year-old John Trenton Smith.  Smith is a convicted felon who was recently released from jail, Oliver says. 

He has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon on a government official, assault on a law enforcement officer with firearm, injury to real property, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, possession of a firearm by a felon, attempt first-degree murder and injury to personal property.

He is currently being held under no bond pending other charges at the completion of the investigation.


Trooper Hennelly with the N.C. Highway Patrol tells Nicole Ferguson the incident began around 4:30 a.m. when the suspect broke into his mother's house. 

Hennelly says the suspect stole guns and ammunition from the home before heading back to the motel, where he had been staying for the past two weeks in a room on the second floor. 

Sheriff Oliver says police who were investigating the break-in went to the motel to speak with Smith.  After a conversation with the suspect, Oliver said the officers left to retrieve a search warrant. 

After the officers left, Oliver said two of his deputies began walking up the stairs to Smith's motel room.  The officers were walking up the stairs when shots were fired from inside the room, he said. 

One of the deputies was grazed by a bullet and the other deputy was grazed by debris, Oliver said.  Trooper Hennelly said the deputy who was grazed by the bullet was hit in the shoulder. 

Sheriff Oliver said the suspect "peacefully surrendered" after a "series of negotiation calls." 

"We continued to have conversations with the suspect through 911 and our officers eventually talked him out," Oliver said.  "He first threw the weapons out of the room and he did come out." 

Both deputies' injuries are described as minor. 

It was not clear how many shots were fired or if law enforcement returned fire. 

Numerous agencies responded to the scene with police and deputies, including state troopers, SBI agents and a U.S. Marshals task force. 

All lanes of I-77 were closed for about three hours in both directions between Mile Markers 79 and 82. 

During the standoff, crews on I-77 also responded to an accident involving three tractor-trailers near Mile Marker 85.

Trooper Terry Bullington says two of the trucks involved in the wreck had stopped because of the standoff, however the third truck "failed to stop."  The third truck rear-ended the second truck, pushing it "up under" the first truck, Bullington said. 

The driver of the third truck was airlifted to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Bullington said. 

The driver's name and condition were not available, but Bullington says the injuries do not appear to be life-threatening.  He added the driver is likely to be cited for failing to reduce speed to avoid a collision. 

Nobody else was injured as a result of the collision. 

There was a small fuel spill, but officials say the trucks were not hauling any hazardous materials.