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GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – The overnight shooting death of a sheriff’s deputy in Wake County is the second such shooting this month in North Carolina and has officials speaking out on violence against law enforcement.

“This comes only 10 days after the murder of Wayne County Deputy Sgt. Matthew Fishman,” Attorney General Josh Stein said in a statement. “Four other North Carolina deputies have been shot doing their jobs in the last three weeks alone, but are thankfully still alive. 

Wake County Sheriff’s Deputy Ned Byrd (WCSO)

“I am profoundly troubled by the recent spate of violence against law enforcement officers. Officers put their lives on the line to protect our communities – we must do everything in our power to keep them safe. I thank the many public-spirited officers who are serving and protecting the people of North Carolina all over the state.”

Said Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) on social media: “Susan and I send our deepest condolences to the family of Wake County Sheriff’s Deputy Ned Byrd who was tragically killed in the line of duty. We are forever grateful for his service and sacrifice to keep North Carolinians safe.”

The Officer Down Memorial Page, which tracks the deaths of law enforcement agents for all reasons, has recorded 159 deaths nationally this year – 40 of them by gunfire – but it has not been updated to include Wake County Deputy Ned Byrd, who was shot Thursday night in Raleigh. ODMP does include Fishman, who died on Aug. 2.

The site, which also lists K9 officers (17 of them) among the dead, shows five deaths this year in North Carolina. Fishman is the only one related to gunfire. Two are COVID-19, one was a heart attack, and one officer was struck by a vehicle. Byrd’s death will increase those counts.

Fishman, 38, died after a 9-hour standoff that left two of his fellow deputies in Wayne County injured. They were shot while serving an involuntary commitment order.

Caswell County Deputy Aaron Tyndall faced a similar situation on Wednesday when he was shot by a barricaded suspect while serving a warrant. He is hospitalized but improving.

A suspect is arrested after the shooting of a Caswell County Sheriff’s deputy during a standoff. (WGHP)

Current trends

Nationally there were 637 line-of-duty deaths in 2021, 1,746 in the past five years and 25,921 since the site began tracking, which goes back to 1791 – yes, that’s no typo, the 1700s.

The first posted death in North Carolina was in 1804, the only one recorded that year, and it was from gunfire.

Law enforcement deaths nationally were mostly one or two a year until 1837, when 12 were recorded, half from gunfire and half from assault.

The current rate of deaths, though, is tracking significantly below last year (about 45%), ODMP reports in its significant data file. Texas has recorded 27 deaths this year, and California has had 12. Alabama, with eight, has the third-most.

The National Law Enforcement Memorial and Museum issued a report for 2021 that showed deaths had increased by 55% from pandemic-riddled 2020. That report 458 total fatalities in 2021, with 62 related to firearms. COVID-19 killed 301. It shows 21 deaths in North Carolina last year.

Oddly, gunfire is only the second-leading cause of deaths in the line of duty this year, ODMP says. COVID-19 has taken 60 lives out of the 158 this year. The victims have been predominantly men in their 50s.

Sheriff Larry Pierce Wayne County updates the public on details surrounding the shooting that killed 1 Sgt. Matthew Fishman and injured two deputies.

Deaths in North Carolina

ODMP tracks deaths by reporting agency, although state organizational deaths are not broken down by geography and could have occurred in virtually any city or county.

For example, since that first posted death in 1804, the North Carolina Highway Patrol has lost 67 officers in the line of duty across the 100 counties, and NC Corrections has had 31 at its various facilities. Two Department of Motor Vehicles employees died in the line of duty, and there has been one death each from officers of the NC Alcohol Enforcement and the State Bureau of Investigation.

Deaths in the Piedmont Triad

Other than those deaths, ODMP lists 91 from officers – including three K9 officers – at police departments and sheriff’s offices across the 14 counties of the Piedmont Triad.

Most of those have been within Forsyth County (26), where the Winston-Salem Police Department has lost 19 and the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office has lost seven.

Guilford County accounted for 22: 12 for the Greensboro Police Department (including one K9) and five each for the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office and the High Point Police Department.

The list by agency:

  • Advance Police Department, 1
  • Alamance County Sheriff’s Office, 4,
  • Alleghany County SO, 2
  • Burlington PD, 1 officer and 1 K9
  • Caswell County SO, 1
  • Davidson County SO, 1
  • Davie County SO, 1 officer, 1 K9
  • Forsyth County SO, 7
  • Graham PD, 2
  • Greensboro PD, 11 officers, 1 K9
  • Guilford County SO, 5
  • High Point PD, 5
  • Lexington PD, 1
  • Mayodan PD, 1
  • Montgomery County SO, 2
  • Mount Airy PD, 3
  • Mount Gilead PD, 1
  • North Wilkesboro PD, 1
  • Pilot Mountain PD, 3
  • Randolph County SO, 2
  • Rockingham County SO, 3
  • Sparta PD, 1
  • Stokes County SO, 1
  • Surry County SO, 1
  • Thomasville PD, 8
  • Winston-Salem PD, 19
  • Yadkin County SO, 1