Marshals acted properly in shooting, DA says

William Dean Hewett was shot by U.S. Marshals after pointing a handgun at them and refusing to surrender June 24.
William Dean Hewett was shot by U.S. Marshals after pointing a handgun at them and refusing to surrender June 24.

The four U.S. Marshals who shot a murder suspect in June acted properly, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Jon David released a statement today (Friday) that said four officers shot and killed William Dean Hewett in the Whiteville Walmart parking lot after he pointed a .40 caliber handgun at the agents. Hewett had repeatedly told friends and family that he would not be taken alive.

Hewett was wanted for the killing of Brandy Lynn Price in Atkinson several days before the shootout. Hewett allegedly dumped Price’s body on a street near a home the two had shared.

Pender detectives requested the assistance of the Marshals Fugitive Task Force to track down Hewett. The spotted a Jeep matching the description of his vehicle in the Walmart parking lot around lunch time on June 24, David said in the press release.

William Dean Hewett (Pender Sheriff’s Office photo)

Hewett had two other individuals with him in the vehicle. Marshals identified him as he left the Walmart, and identified themselves as police officers when he got to the Jeep. Hewett then dropped into a crouch and drew his handgun, David said.

Despite repeated orders to drop the gun, Hewett refused, and pointed it at the officers. All four agents opened fire, striking him repeatedly.

The marshals and a nurse who was nearby administered first aid immediately, David said, but Hewett died of his wounds at the scene.

David said the officers’ statements were corroborated by witnesses.

“Through the exemplary investigation by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, the officers’ statements to investigators were substantially corroborated using surveillance footage and statements from independent witnesses,” David said. 

Manhunts like the one for Hewett are a “significant danger to both officers and the public,” David said. 

“Considering the surrounding circumstances, there was no convenient time or entirely safe manner for officers to effectuate the arrest of Hewett,” David said. “The task force received intelligence that Hewett was armed, dangerous, and prepared to ‘shoot it out’ with law enforcement. Their decision to initiate the arrest in a sparsely populated area of a parking lot was reasonable and the decision to shoot a measured response to the actions of Hewett.”

The agents will not face charges, David said.

“Indeed, the four officers are to be commended for taking decisive action to serve and protect the public.” 

David said that along with SBI agents and senior prosecutors from the District Attorney’s office, he met with Hewett’s family Friday, and offered the file on the investigation for review by their attorney.

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Jefferson Weaver is the Managing Editor of Columbus County News and he can be reached at (910) 914-6056, (910) 632-4965, or by email at