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Charlotte shootout suspect was once convicted in Alamance

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Flags across North Carolina have been flying at half staff this week in tribute to four veteran law enforcement officers who were shot to death on Monday afternoon by a fugitive holed up in an east Charlotte residence.

But the deaths of these officers, who included three members of a U.S. Marshals Task Force, has been especially jolting for some local law enforcement officials, who had previously encountered this same perpetrator during the course of his extensive career as a felon.

In fact, Terry Clark Hughes, Jr., who was ultimately killed in the shootout on Monday, had passed through Alamance County’s court system more than a decade ago, leading to one of several prison stints he has in his record.

According to the N.C. Department of Correction, the 39-year-old black male embarked on a 10-month prison stretch in October of 2012 after he was convicted of speeding to elude arrest in Alamance County as well as the illegal possession of a firearm by a previously convicted felon.

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Terry Clark Hughes, Jr. – from mug shot in 2012 when he was arrested in Alamance County.

Byron Tucker, a spokesman for the office of Alamance County’s sheriff, acknowledged that this episode has left its mark on his agency’s records even if it has faded from the memories of some of its deputies.

“We encountered him at around midnight on June 28, 2012,” he explained as he read through a contemporary account of the case, “we attempted a traffic stop that led to a pursuit when he failed to stop.”

Tucker added that Hughes, who had drawn the attention of deputies when he ran a driver’s license checkpoint, ultimately plowed his car into a tree, bringing an abrupt end to the chase.

According to the Department of Correction, Hughes was sentenced to a maximum of 26 months in prison following his capture in Alamance County. He was ultimately released in September of 2013 after less than a year behind bars – only to return to the slammer again in 2016 for a felony parole violation.

These two prison terms were, moreover, just the tip of a criminal iceberg that also included a felony-level conviction in Person County for breaking and entering and another in Chatham for the illegal possession of a firearm. In addition, court records indicate that Hughes had several pending cases in various counties – including one out of Lincoln County that featured an outstanding order for his arrest on charges of fleeing to elude arrest and illegal weapon possession.

This outstanding order was eventually passed along to a Fugitive Task Force that the U.S. Marshals Service has mustered in the Charlotte area. Members of this task force eventually tracked Hughes to a home in the Shannon Park neighborhood, which they visited on Monday afternoon in order to serve the arrest warrants.

According various accounts of the subsequent slaughter, Hughes opened fire as the task force approached the dwelling, killing three of its members and wounding a fourth. A Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer was later slain when a second wave of law enforcement was dispatched to apprehend Hughes. Three other officers were also injured, while the suspect was fatally wounded and died in the front yard of the home.

Although none of the four slain officers appears to have had any connection to Alamance County, their deaths have nevertheless given much pause to their comrades at the local sheriff’s office.

According to Jackie Fortner, the chief deputy under Alamance County’s sheriff Terry Johnson, the whole episode has been a somber reminder of the risks that officers take whenever they put on their uniforms.

“Any time that an officer dies in the line of duty, it’s emotional for us,” Fortner conceded. “We also have Marshals Task Force members, and the sheriff checked on those people just to see how they were feeling.

“This is a job that should not be taken lightly,” he added. “But does that keep us from doing our duty? No, it does not.”

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