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Woman shot by trooper on I-40 near Hickory is accused of multiple hit-and-run crashes, kidnapping, firing on patrolman

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HILDEBRAN — Details from troopers and eyewitnesses paint a chaotic scene from the minutes before a woman was shot by a state trooper Tuesday morning in eastern Burke County.

Troopers first were dispatched to multiple hit-and-run crashes between McDowell and Burke counties on Interstate 40 around 6:45 a.m., followed by a related armed kidnapping near the 114 mile marker, according to a press release from the North Carolina State Highway Patrol.

Sources told reporters a good Samaritan stopped to help a woman who was initially driving a red car, when she pointed a gun at the man and forced him to drive his pickup truck east on I-40.


North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation agents collect evidence at the scene of a shooting Tuesday morning on Interstate 40 eastbound at exit 118.

Sgt. A.K. Johnson was in the area and found the pickup truck, which had pulled to the side of the interstate near Exit 118, a press release said.

Johnson said a woman was in the bed of the truck. She fired a gun at Johnson, who returned fire, hitting her, according to the press release.

Authorities secured the scene and performed life-saving measures until EMS arrived on scene to transport the woman. She was listed in stable condition Tuesday afternoon, the release said.

Johnson was not injured.

Kathy Phibbs, of Morganton, had gotten on the interstate at Exit 98 around 6:40 a.m. when she encountered the woman in a red convertible.

She said she had merged into the left lane to pass some slow-moving tractor-trailers when she saw headlights in her rear-view mirror.


State Bureau of Investigation agents photographs the interior of a truck at the scene of a shooting Tuesday morning on Interstate 40 eastbound at Exit 118.

“The next thing I know is there was a car that came up on me really quick and I saw the headlights,” Phibbs said. “I thought, ‘Man, this person’s awful close.’”

The car then hit her from behind and took off, Phibbs said.

Jason Moore had a similar experience during his morning commute. He told WSOCTV a car hit him from behind, then drove around him in the grass.


North Carolina State Highway Patrol troopers confer as they investigate a shooting Tuesday morning on Interstate 40 eastbound at Exit 118.

Johnson, a 19-year veteran of the patrol, has been placed on administrative duty, which is agency protocol for any trooper-involved shooting, the SHP release said. The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation is investigating the shooting, and the Highway Patrol is continuing its investigation of the suspect’s actions.

Charges are anticipated, but have not been listed yet.

The incident shut down I-40 at Exit 118 for nearly six hours as the crime scene was being investigated.


Troopers with the Highway Patrol’s reconstruction unit work at the scene of an officer-involved shooting on Interstate 40 at Exit 118.


A wrecker with the car the woman was driving when she hit multiple vehicles sits in front of the truck she later forced a driver to flee in at gunpoint.

Chrissy Murphy is a staff writer at The News Herald of Morgantonand can be reached at cmurphy or at


Follow @cmurphyMNH on Twitter.

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