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Deputy Recalls Deadly Confrontation
As Assailant Is Shipped Off To Prison
BY ERIC CARLSON
A 43-year-old Raleigh man was sentenced to
six years in prison Monday after admitting his
guilt in an incident that could have resulted in his
own death or that of a Brunswick County sheriff's
"If I had been just a little bit slower, I would
have been dead," Deputy Sgt. Gene Browning
said Tuesday. "It was the worst thing that ever
happened to me."
It started as routine occurrence in the life of
any law enforcement officer on late shift. At
about 2 a.m. last Nov. 12, Browning began fol
lowing a car travelling at an unusually slow rate
of speed on U.S. 17. As his patrol car got closer,
the vehicle pulled over to the roadside and stop
Thinking that the driver might be having me
chanical difficulties. Browning said he walked to
ward the car and shined his flashlight into the dri
That's when he spotted the 12-gauge shotgun
across the man's lap with its muzzle pointed in
Browning's direction. As the weapon began to
move toward him. Browning said he reached into
the car and grabbed the barrel, trying to keep it
"The suspect then pulled me into the driver's
window and I pulled back," Browning said in his
"/ ordered the suspect
to drop the shotgun and
he refused and started
to walk toward me. "
? Gene Browning, Deputy Sgt.
report of the incident. "This occurred about three
or four times. I also challenged the suspect to
drop the weapon several times and he said no."
As the struggle continued. Browning said he
swung his flashlight at the man. hut it hit the car's
roof and flew out of his hand. As he reached for
his service weapon, the shotgun went off. pushing
Browning backwards and causing him to lose
control of the barrel.
"I was lucky that it was a single shot, or he
probably would have fired again." Browning said.
Instead, the man took oft at high speed with
Browning in pursuit. He radioed for assistance
and chased the car for about three miles before il
ran off the highway into a ditch. The driver
crawled out through the passenger door with the
shotgun in his hand.
"I ordered the suspect to drop the shotgun and
he refused and started to walk toward me,"
Browning's report said. "I ordered the suspect
eight or ten times to drop his weapon and he kept
coming toward me."
With his sidearm aimed at the suspect.
Browning had moved behind his patrol car as the
man ? still carrying the shotgun ? reached the dri
ver side door. Browning said he wanted to avoid
shooting the man.
"He was obviously very drunk and I figured
the shotgun was empty," Browning said.
Just then. Deputy Richard l^ong arrived and
challenged the suspect to drop the shotgun. This
confused the man long enough for Browning to
rush him and knock the shotgun to the ground,
the report said.
When he picked up the gun. Browning found
a shell in the chambcr. The the man had reloaded
while speeding away to elude arrest.
In district court Monday, the suspect. James
Arthur Adair, pleaded guilty to one count each of
assault with a deadly weapon on a law enforce
ment officer, failure to stop for a blue light and
siren, driving while impaired by alcohol and dri
ving while his license was revoked.
He was given three consecutive two-year
prison sentences and ordered to participate in the
N.C. Department of Corrections Drug and Alco
hol Rehabilitation Training (DART) program.
Whiteville Attorney To Seek
1 3th District Court Judgeship
Whiteville Attorney Tom
Aldridge has announced he will be a
candidate for district court judge on
ticket in the
seek the judge
ship for the 13th
which is com
prised of Bla
ridge, 46, was an assistant district at
torney in the 13th Judicial District
beginning in 1983 and is now in the
private practice of law.
"During my legal career I have
had the opportunity to work exten
sively in the civil, criminal and juve
nile courts in the 13th Judicial
District," he said. I have a wealth of
experience and knowledge that I
would like to use for the betterment
of the judicial system."
A native of Siler City in Chatham
County, Aldridge graduated from
Atlantic Christian College in 1969
and the UNC School of Law in
1972. He was a prosecutor for ap
proximately 15 years and has been
an attorney in private practice for six
He is married to the former Janie
Aderholt of Lincolnton, who owns
and operates Rag-a-Muffin, a chil
dren's clothing store in Whiteville.
They have four children.
Aldridge is a member of the First
Baptist Church of Whiteville where
he sings in the adult choir. He was a
member of the N.C. National Guard
for 15 years and has been active in
Boy Scouting. Dixie Youth Baseball
and the Masons.
He said he is proud to have estab
lished the Drug Abuse Resistance
Education (DARE) program in the
Whiteville City and Columbus
County schools when he served as
assistant district attorney.
The judgeship Aldridge is seeking
is currently held by Judge David G.
Wall of Elizabethtown, who is not
Tip From Citizen Leads To
Cocaine Bust Of Local Man
A telephone tip from a concerned citizen led to the arrest of a 35-year
old Shallotte man and the seizure of about $880 worth of crack cocaine
recently, a Brunswick County narcotics officer said Monday.
At about 11:45 a.m. on Dec. 9, someone called the sheriff's department
to report that a man was selling drugs from a vehicle in the Pine Crest
area, according to Detective Billy Hughes. The caller gave a description
of the man's car and its direction of travel.
Hughes said he stopped the suspect's truck near Grissettown. While
patting down the driver for weapons, the detective found a container
filled with 44 doses of crack. Each dose commonly sells for about $20,
The suspect, Thomas Wilbert Price of Route 1, was arrested and
charged with one count each of possession with the intent to sell and de
liver cocaine and maintaining a vehicle for the purpose of selling and de
Hughes urged anyone who observes or has information about illegal
drug activities to call the Brunswick County Sheriff's Department.
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Shallotte, NC 28459
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Well-Loved Clerk Retires
Ruth Johnson, longtime attendance clerk at West Brunsw ick High
School , accepts a plaque from Principal Ed Lemon on her retire
ment Friday after 16 "good" years at the school. In addition to
handling attendance and securing substitute teachers, Johnson
sened as cheerleading sponsor for nearly a decade. She h as a sub
stitute teacher before joining the staff in August 1977, a feu
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