'A dangerous job:' Caswell deputy fifth NC deputy shot in line of duty in less than a month

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ByCindy Bae via WTVD logo
Thursday, August 11, 2022
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Caswell County Sheriff's Deputy Aaron Tyndall was shot in the line of duty on Wednesday, making him the fifth local deputy to be shot in the line of duty in North Carolina in less than a month.

YANCEYVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Caswell County Sheriff's Deputy Aaron Tyndall was shot in the line of duty on Wednesday, making him the fifth deputy to be shot in the line of duty in North Carolina in less than a month.

Tyndall, who's been with the Caswell County Sheriff's Office for at least three years, is at Duke Hospital for treatment and was said to be responsive and doing well.

The suspect in Tyndall's shooting, 51--year-old Kevin Anthony DeSilva, of Semora Township, has been charged with one count of attempted first-degree murder, one count of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, two counts of assault with a firearm on a law enforcement officer and one count of discharging a forearm into an occupied vehicle. He's being held at the Caswell County Detention Center under a $10 million bond.

The latest shooting in Caswell County comes one week after Wayne County lost one of its own to gun violence. Sgt. Matthew Fishman and two other deputies were shot while serving involuntary commitment papers in Dudley on Aug. 1. Fishman died the next day.

"This is a dangerous job," Wayne County Public Information Officer Joel Gillie said. "Our officers go in, not knowing what's going to happen, and you know, really, it's more that we're seeing more of a blatant disregard for human life."

The Wayne County Sheriff's Office is one of many who reacted to the close call that involved an hours-long standoff.

"The harsh reality is we can't send a SWAT team to everything," Gillie said. "Everybody wants this balance of de-escalation, but then when something happens, they say, "What did you do?" You're never going to win."

As of Thursday, 40 U.S. law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty, mostly by gunfire, according to the FBI. Accidental deaths have also increased from 2021 by nearly 6%. The accidental deaths in 2022 were caused primarily to car crashes.

In Wake County, Sheriff Gerald Baker said his office serves tens of thousands of items of process.

"We're responsible for going out and making service on these items of process, and it's probably now, I believe, probably the most dangerous assignment in law enforcement," Baker said.

Despite training and researching to better understand a person involved in the call for service, Baker said it's unpredictable.

"We're dealing with a lot of different things out there," Baker said.

The responsibilities can be overwhelming in counties where there are not enough resources, such as Sampson County, where the sheriff's office is dealing with several challenges.

"One of the challenges we face, is just simply, we're a large county," Lt. Marcus Smith said. "We're the size of the state of Rhode Island and arguably, the largest county in the state, depending on who you ask, by landmass. And oftentimes, we're forced to work with just four people patrolling this entire county."

People, such as Sampson County Deputy Caitlin Emanuel, who was shot in the line of duty when responding to a report of a stolen car on July 23.

"Deputy Caitlin Emanuel, she is home recovering well while she's still doing therapy," Smith said. "The deputies responding to the stolen vehicle calls, often by themselves, serving involuntary commitment papers, unfortunately, often by themselves, because we simply don't have the manpower."

Smith said there are 13 vacancies between deputy sheriffs and prison guards, which he said is alarming.

"It places undue stress on the officers, unnecessary risk on the officers, and frankly, puts their lives in danger," he said.

The hiring pool may be younger, including new deputies with less than five years of experience, but Smith didn't doubt their capability.

"I'm confident that every agency is providing adequate training throughout the state and preparing these officers," Smith said.

But there are instances they cannot control, such as approaching people with a criminal history and dealing with mental health challenges.

"We simply have to do a better job in the judicial system to let criminals know that you're going to be punished for a crime," Smith said. "And to address mental health ... we're not doctors. It places us in an unfair situation and at a disadvantage, frankly, because our only method is talking with them, or an arrest. And in a lot of cases, they need medical help and in just simply, you can't provide the needs that they require."