WAGRAM — Sheriff Ralph Kersey said the members of the Scotland County Sheriff’s Office “grew to love” Alexis Thunder Eagle Locklear during his short time on the force.
Locklear, who lived in Robeson County and received his law enforcement certification here, was killed in a car accident while on duty on Thursday.
“It seems like everywhere he went he made a friend,” Kersey said. “He was a very quiet individual but loved his job. I actually picked at him a lot about being named Thunder because he moved so slowly when he was around the office.”
The 24-year-old deputy and father of a 4-year-old was killed in a crash on Old Wire Road near Wagram. He had been on force for only 10 months.
“I would like to send out my condolences to the family. I spoke with them last night, and we talked about Deputy Locklear’s dream, and that was he wanted to be a law enforcement officer, and he chose the Scotland County Sheriff’s Office,” Kersey said tearing up. “It did not take a long time spending with Thunder to know that he would fit right in with this family.”
Locklear had been attempting to help a fellow officer who was engaged in a car chase shortly after 7:15 p.m. Thursday.
“Locklear was responding to assist other officers that were involved in a vehicle pursuit and prior to him reaching their destination he lost control of his vehicle on Old Wire Road, which resulted in the vehicle striking several trees there on Old Wire Road, which resulted in the death of Deputy Locklear,” Kersey said. “It’s not something that any sheriff or police chief would ever want to happen on their watch, and surely not on mine.”
The chase began when Lt. Kelly Jacobs attempted to pull over a vehicle for having no taillights. The car sped away and Jacobs called in a pursuit.
Locklear was about six miles from where William Murdock eventually was stopped on U.S. 401 near McLaughlin Road when he lost control of the 2014 Dodge Charger.
Murdock, 36, of Pine Street, was charged with felony elude arrest with motor vehicle causing death, misdemeanor reckless driving/wanton disregard and misdemeanor resisting arrest and was placed in the Scotland County Detention Center under a $75,000 bond.
A Highway Patrol crash reconstruction team from Raleigh arrived to investigate the crash. Locklear’s body was taken to Raleigh for an autopsy.
“There was a lot of support out there last night that showed up in a very short period of time, which to me once again shows that when needed this county comes together as a team, and I’m thankful for all the help that showed up last night,” Kersey said.
Locklear graduated Robeson Community College Basic Law Enforcement Training on May 6, 2017, and joined Scotland County Sheriff’s Office on May 16, 2017. He lived in the Saddletree community of Robeson County.
A flag was flown over the state Capitol at half-staff on Friday in Locklear’s honor. The flag will be retired and given to the Scotland County Sheriff’s Office to present to his family at the funeral service, according to Kersey. Funeral arrangements were not complete.
Locklear’s call number — 143 — will be retired by the Sheriff’s Office.
Kersey said several agencies had reached out to him to provide grief counseling for his deputies.
“I’ve had the Highway Patrol to reach out to provide that assistance. I’ve also has contact with the county manager of using one of our local businesses. I’ve been contacted by the North Carolina Sheriff’s Association. They’ve offered their assistance in whatever we need,” Kersey said. “We’re going to do whatever we can to provide our employees the assistance they need for all of us to make it through this tragic event.”
Kersey said his department takes advantage of as much training as it possibly can with regard to handling high-speed pursuits and field training, but will also examine the department’s policy.
“We had started last year sending our employees to classes on driving. If I did not step back and look at our policy and see if there’s something that we can do better …,” Kersey said, but did not finish his thought. “We’ll continue to do the training that we’ve been doing with our officers. Our problem has been, like in most cases, the finance part of it.”
Other police departments, such as McColl and Pembroke, shared on Facebook that they were standing with the Scotland County Sheriff in this painful time. Others poured out their condolences on Facebook to the family and to friends.
Reach Beth Lawrence, a reporter for the Laurinburg Exchange, by calling 910-506-3169