1 hurt in Hickory shootout; officer saved by vest

Kenneth Alexander Hewitt -- bottom left.


by STEVE LYTTLE / Charlotte Observer


Posted on January 22, 2013 at 10:14 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 22 at 5:21 PM

HICKORY, N.C. -- One person was injured Monday night and a police officer was shot in his vest when a drug search in Hickory turned into a shootout, authorities say.

The injured man is expected to survive, Hickory police say. And they say the bulletproof vest saved the officer, who was struck in the chest by a gunshot.

Two young children were in the home at the time.

It happened about 11:30 p.m. at a house in the 1500 block of 31st Street Court SE, police say. That is in a quiet neighborhood on the east side of Hickory, a short distance south of Interstate 40.

They say uniformed officers and members of Hickory police’s Special Operations Team were serving a drug search warrant at the house, when the officers came under fire. Police took cover, authorities say, and returned fire.

The shooting stopped moments later, and police say they ordered occupants of the house to come out.

That’s when they discovered that one occupant, 40-year-old Michael Lee Watson, had been shot. Police say Watson was taken to Catawba Valley Medical Center, and that his injuries did not appear to be life-threatening.

Also inside the house, according to police, were Kenneth Alexander Hewitt, 21, along with a woman and two young children. Hewitt was charged with four counts of assault with a deadly weapon on a government official and is jailed under $500,000 bond. Additional charges are possible, police say.

Police were still at the scene Tuesday morning. Television video of the house showed bullet holes visible in the front of the structure.

Deputy Chief Clyde Deal said police have asked the SBI to investigate, as is standard procedure with any officer-involved shooting. Five officers who returned fire also are on administrative leave during the investigation.

Hewitt is scheduled to make his first court appearance Wednesday in Newton.