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Two Chatham County deputies have been fired and a Siler City police officer has resigned following an off-duty shooting incident last month in downtown Pittsboro, police officials said.
Pittsboro police responding to a call about gunshots found the men in a town parking lot near West Salisbury Street around 10 p.m. April 11. They identified two of the men — Alexis Bonilla and Greg Barrett — as Chatham County deputies. The third man, who was not named, was identified as a sergeant with the Siler City Police Department.
All three men were off duty and were intoxicated, police reported. The men, who refused to answer questions, had been drinking at a nearby restaurant, Pittsboro Police Chief Shorty Johnson said Wednesday in an interview with The News & Observer.
He said police also learned that Bonilla had purchased alcoholic drinks for a 19-year-old friend at the restaurant.
Both deputies had their personal, concealed-carry pistols with them, Johnson said, and evidence at the scene that suggested Bonilla had fired at least two shots. It’s still not clear why the shots were fired, Johnson said, but no one was injured and no property was damaged.
Bonilla, 24, of Siler City, was charged with discharging a firearm within town limits, carrying a concealed gun after consuming alcohol and aiding in an underage purchase of alcohol.
Barrett, 27, of Robbins, was charged with carrying a concealed gun after consuming alcohol.
‘You wonder what in the world’
The Siler City officer did not have a weapon and was not charged, Johnson said. Siler City Police Chief Mike Wagner confirmed in a news release Wednesday that his officer resigned May 3, following an internal investigation into the incident.
“You wonder what in the world, as a law enforcement officer, goes through your mind when you decide that’s what you’re going to do,” Johnson said. “As much as the public is on us now, we wanted to make sure we did a proper investigation and charged the officers. We’re not going to turn a blind eye just because they’re law enforcement officers.”
Chatham County Sheriff Mike Roberson also initiated an internal investigation following the incident, according to a Sheriff’s Office news release.
Bonilla and Barrett were fired three days later for dishonesty and violating department policy, the release noted.
“As law enforcement, we must be good stewards of public trust,” Roberson said. “Our internal investigation was handled swiftly and professionally, and we feel the final decision was the right one. Dishonesty or criminal behavior will not be tolerated within the ranks of the Sheriff’s Office.”
“Thankfully, no one was injured during this incident and no property was damaged as a result of the discharge,” he added.