VASS, N.C. – A North Carolina deputy sheriff was shot and killed Wednesday as he tried to arrest an Iraq war veteran with an outstanding arrest warrant for not paying child support, authorities said. The suspect then took his own life.
Moore County Sheriff Lane Carter said that Deputy Richard Rhyne had spoken to the suspect around noon and determined he had an outstanding arrest warrant.
Carter said the suspect, Martin Poynter, pulled out a gun and fatally shot Rhyne outside an abandoned home near Vass, which is 60 miles southwest of Raleigh.
Poynter then turned the same gun on himself and also died, the sheriff said.
The sheriff said the 58-year-old Rhyne went to the home after deputies received a trespassing complaint. The deputy found the 33-year-old Poynter and his brother and had time to check their names before he was killed.
Rhyne had been in law enforcement for 37 years and a Moore County deputy since 2007.
"Our hearts are awful heavy. It's like losing a family member," Carter said.
The suspect's brother witnessed both shootings, Carter said, but he was not involved in the killing and was not arrested.
Martin Poynter didn't have a criminal record, but he was recently taken into custody for a mental evaluation after being involved in a domestic dispute following his return from military service in Iraq a few years ago, Carter said.
Rhyne started in law enforcement in Pinehurst in 1974 and served as police chief at Foxfire Village for 26 years beginning in 1981. He came to the Moore County Sheriff's Office in 2007, working at the courthouse and as a school resource officer as well as helping with patrol, Cater said.
"He was a wonderful man and a great police officer," the sheriff said. "Whenever you saw Rick, he was always personable and he loved everybody."
Rhyne was the first Moore County deputy ever to be killed in the line of duty.
Last month, an Iraq war veteran shot an Alabama deputy sheriff in the face during a police stop minutes after a convenience store robbery, and then led police on a chase into Tennessee, where an officer was wounded during a shootout with the suspect. Both officers survived.