Elm City, NC – Law enforcement officers across the nation have been extending their gratitude to an off-duty nurse who pulled over to help a state trooper after he was shot in the face during a traffic stop on Monday.
Sherice Richardson, 28, said that her own brother was murdered in 2015, and that his attacker left him to die alone in the street, WRAL reported.
She wasn’t about to let the same thing happen to North Carolina State Highway Patrol (NCSHP) Trooper Daniel Harrell.
Trooper Harrell was critically wounded at approximately 5:15 p.m., after he pulled over a vehicle for a towing violation on Haynes Road, The Wilson Times reported.
He had just finished gathering information on the vehicle occupants – John David Jones, 36, Bryan Mullins, 25, and William Boswell, 40 – when Jones announced that he was “not going back to jail,” Wilson County Sheriff Calvin Woodward told the paper.
Jones suddenly opened fire, hitting Trooper Harrell in the face at least twice, Sheriff Woodward said.
Despite his gunshot wounds, Trooper Harrell ran back to his patrol vehicle and began pursuing the fleeing suspects.
The suspect vehicle eventually turned around and sped towards the trooper’s oncoming cruiser, slamming into it head-on.
One suspect remained at the scene and surrendered immediately, but Jones and one of his accomplices took off.
Just moments after the crash, Richardson happened to be driving by the scene of the collision on her way to get her 1-year-old daughter from daycare, WRAL reported.
“I was coming around the curve. I saw some blue lights, and so I slowed down and saw smoke coming from the vehicle,” she recalled. “I was like, ‘That must have been a car accident.’”
Even though she was running late, Richardson knew she needed to stop, she said.
As she rushed over to Trooper Harrell’s patrol vehicle, she was nearly struck by the fleeing suspect vehicle, she told WRAL.
“I couldn’t believe it. It was smoke coming from the car and you know, I saw the bullets coming from the windshield, so I got out of the car,” Richardson explained. “I went to the car and asked him if he’s okay and I saw him bleeding from the face.”
“All I could hear him say was, ‘I’m hit! I’m hit!” she told The News & Observer.
Richardson immediately called 911, then she and another Good Samaritan worked to slow the wounded trooper’s bleeding using gauze he had inside the patrol car.
“I couldn’t just let nobody sit there and let him bleed,” she told WRAL. “Me being the person I am, and being a nurse, I couldn’t do that.”
Paramedics arrived minutes later, and rushed Trooper Harrrell to the Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, here he remains hospitalized with serious, but non-life threatening injuries, police said.
“I was kind of praying he would be OK. I knew in my heart he would be,” Richardson said.
“I feel like God put me there, on that road, for a reason, she told The News & Observer.
Investigators immediately began searching for Jones, and ultimately located him in a wooded area off of Cattail Road, WNCN reported.
Mullins and Boswell were apprehended prior to Jones’ arrest.
Jones has since been charged with assault on a law enforcement officer, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, breaking or entering, assault on a female, and larceny after breaking and entering.
Mullins and Boswell have been charged with possession of a stolen vehicle, and are being held on $15,000 bond.
After all three men were behind bars, Richardson wrote about her encounter with Trooper Harrell in a Facebook post, alongside a picture of the trooper’s mangled patrol vehicle.
“I could not believe my eyes. This car was smoking with bullet holes in the windshield & I just couldn’t go past it,” she wrote. “The officer was bleeding from his face & I knew I had to help him. I just had to stay with him until EMS arrived to take over.”
“This is somebody’s son, brother, dad, uncle, etc... & he didn’t deserve to be shot like this trying to do his job,” Richardson said. “I pray this man pulls through with a full recovery & I pray they fry the man behind the gun.”
Richardson said that the attack on Trooper Harrell also reminded her about how she felt in the wake of her own brother’s murder.
“I watched my brother lay on concrete lifeless in hopes that he would get a second chance,” she recalled. “I would not wish that pain on anyone’s family, especially in the line of duty.”
Richardson said that she has received messages from law enforcement officers across the country since the incident, thanking her for stopping to help the trooper, according to WRAL.
She even received a call from Trooper Harrell’s own family.
“His family, they just wanted to thank me for staying there with him,” she said. “They assured me he would make it through.”
Trooper Harrell joined the NCSHP in May of 2014, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Tom Cherry, and his father, Larry Harrell, The Wilson Times reported.
In 2016, he was named as the NCSHP Troop C, District 5 Officer of the Year.
“God had his hands on him,” NCSHP Sergeant Bennie Pulliam told The Wilson Times. “He is definitely lucky.”