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Deputy shoots, kills suspect with knife in Rowan County

Deputies said it started with a 911 call about a single-car crash into a tree Thursday night.
Credit: Артем Константин

SALISBURY, N.C. — A deputy shot and killed a suspect armed with a knife in Rowan County on Thursday, officials said. Rowan County Sheriff's Office said based on its review of body camera footage, the deputy was justified in the shooting. 

"A preliminary review by the RCSO shows that the shooting was justified and that the deputy was acting in accordance with his use of force training and within the laws of the state of North Carolina," the RCSO said in an email update. 

It all started with a car accident. Deputies said the Rowan County 911 Center got a call about a single-vehicle accident on Rock Spring Drive in Salisbury, North Carolina, shortly after 8:30 p.m. 

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The 911 caller said a car hit a tree, and that there could be possible injuries. Fire and EMS responded to the crash and notified the NC State Highway Patrol.

When Fire and EMS personnel arrived on the scene at about 8:50 p.m., they reported being confronted by 46-year-old Steven Ray Johnson who had a knife, and immediately called for the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office. 

Fire and EMS units moved back until deputies could arrive on the scene. Multiple RCSO units were dispatched to the incident. 

An RCSO deputy arrived at the incident shortly before 9 p.m. and was also confronted by the suspect who was still armed with a knife. Officials said the deputy shot the suspect dead. 

RCSO said Johnson was a resident of Charlotte and Salisbury, and the department has not had previous interaction with him. 

Officials said Johnson has a previous conviction in Mecklenburg County for felony death by vehicle, for which he was sentenced to eight years in prison. He was released in September 2019. 

The North Carolina SBI was contacted and will investigate the incident, which is a standard procedure in officer-involved shootings. The deputy is on administrative duty during the investigation. 


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