Officer injured in shooting incident

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

An off-duty Suffolk Police officer was slightly injured Monday night when assailants fired several gunshots at his vehicle.

Officer Carl L. Wheeler was attempting to turn off North Fourth St. onto North Sixth St. at about 10:39 p.m. when the shots struck his personal vehicle, a 1990 Honda Civic. He lost control of the vehicle as shots rang out causing him to run into a small tree alongside the street.

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The car sustained damages to the side windows and windshield, which were broken out, and bullets put holes into the driver’s side front door of the vehicle.

Wheeler was treated and released from Obici Hospital for injuries to his face. Police Information Officer Mike Simpkins said the injuries were unrelated to the gunshots.

Wheeler’s incident is the second time within two weeks that a Suffolk Police officer has been fired upon. Officer Joe Coleman was fired up April 9, during a pursuit of suspects in the robbery of a Sentry Mart on Route 58, near Holland. In this incident, no bullets struck the officer’s vehicle.

The three suspects, Willie Louis Covington, 20, of Portsmouth; Alonzo Dennis Copeland, 24, of Railroad Avenue; and Ricky Antonio Eaton, 18, of Norfolk; were captured and charged with multiple counts of robbery, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, attempted malicious wounding, using a firearm in the attempted malicious wounding, conspiring to commit robbery, and wearing a mask in public.

In Monday night’s shooting, the only information police have on the suspect vehicle is that it is a small blue car believed to have been carrying four black male occupants. The vehicle left the scene north bound on North Fourth St., crossing the Norfolk and Southern railroad tracks and disappearing from sight.

Officer Wheeler, 38, is a veteran of almost five years with the Suffolk Police Department. He has worked with the D.A.R.E. Program and has served with the Community Services Division, working closely with the people of Suffolk to improve their neighborhoods.

Anyone with information about either of the two shooting incidents is asked to call Suffolk &uot;Crime Line&uot; at 539-1222, or call Suffolk Police at 923-2350. Callers to Crime Line are paid up to $1,000 if information leads to an arrest. Callers do not give their names and they are never required to testify in court.