No one yet charged in shooting of Officer Harris

Submitted by Carbondale Times on

Carbondale Police Officer Trey Harris

Geoffrey Ritter
Carbondale Times

Contrary to multiple published reports, no one has yet been publicly charged in the July 31 shooting of a Carbondale Police officer.

Authorities in Saline County, Kan., on Wednesday charged three Kansas men, Xavier E. Lewis, Alex B. Karcher and Xavier L. McCray, with traveling to Jackson County, Ill., with the intent of committing capital murder.

The people targeted for murder, according to the complaint filed in Kansas, were Darien Williams-Wright, Judious Kizeart and Robert Harris. The alleged crime reportedly took place between July 27 and Aug. 1.

According to the complaint out of Saline County, Kan., the suspects allegedly plotted their crime "pursuant to a contract or agreement."

The Salina Journal newspaper reports Karcher, Lewis and McCray each face between nine and 41 years in prison if convicted.

The Carbondale Police Department issued a press release Wednesday afternoon announcing the charges in Kansas and saying they are "associated with the July 31, 2016 shooting in Carbondale." Whether the release was referencing the shooting incident that injured 26-year-old Carbondale Police Officer Trey Harris, or the sounds of gunfire to which Harris was initially responding, is not made clear in the release. Either way, the three men in Kansas have not been charged with shooting Harris, despite multiple accounts that circulated Wednesday night and Thursday. 

Carbondale Police Chief Jeff Grubbs could not be reached for further comment. According to the Wednesday press release from Carbondale Police, a reward of $15,000 remains in place "for information which leads to the identity, arrest and conviction" of anyone involved in the shooting of Harris.

Officers responded to sounds of gunfire around 11:38 p.m. July 31 and immediately began a pursuit of a suspect vehicle that wound westbound on East Larch Street and then northbound on Marion Street in Carbondale, eventually heading to the east on Dillinger Road. The pursuit reportedly reached speeds of 80 miles per hour.

Once in the 2400 block of Dillinger Road, a suspect in the vehicle opened fire on the pursuing police vehicle, striking the car multiple times and hitting Harris with a round that went through the windshield. Carbondale Police say they never fired back. The time between the start of the pursuit and Harris’ injury was less than four minutes. Harris, who was the passenger in the police vehicle, was taken immediately to the hospital.

The most substantial lead disclosed publicly thus far was the recovery of the suspect vehicle — a tan Pontiac Grand Prix — the next day on Dewmaine Road, just off of Division Street north of Carterville. The vehicle was abandoned and burned in a wooded area just off the road.

Harris was released from Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis Aug. 2 and is now recovering at home. On Tuesday, Carbondale Mayor Mike Henry said Harris, who has been with the department since 2013, was fortunate.

"He was extremely lucky the bullet didn't make it to his brain stem, but it came very close," Henry said. "We hope that he keeps his eye. That's where we are now."