A five-hour manhunt that began with a man allegedly firing on an officer ended in an arrest Wednesday evening.
Events began to unfold earlier in the day when Benjamin Lee Moody was spotted on someone’s property displaying a firearm. Witnesses described hearing three shots, and according to a press release sent out that night by the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office, a death threat was also made concerning a resident at a nearby home.
“A short time later, deputies encountered an individual in a truck fitting the description provided to law enforcement,” the release reads. “The individual exited the vehicle with a long barrel firearm and refused to comply with multiple verbal commands from deputies.”
Moody fled into the nearby woods, which are dense this time of year and made the search tiresome and difficult.
“During this time, the suspect fired a shot believed to be directed at law enforcement,” the release reads.
Once the call for “shots fired” went out over the scanner, law enforcement, including officers from the Haywood and Jackson County Sheriff’s Offices, Maggie Valley Police Department and U.S. Marshal Service responded in heavy numbers and with extreme quickness. While Marshals don’t typically respond to such scenarios in Haywood County, they offered their assistance because they were in the area doing a probation check.
As the law enforcement presence increased, Special Response Team members and other officers donned tactical gear and secured NC 209, which borders the woods where Moody was hiding out. After a few hours, officers were able to clear all the buildings along the road and reopen it, allowing dozens of people waiting patiently at the scene to return home.
While the man who Moody shot at was initially apprehended in somewhat dramatic fashion, it was solely due to a probation issue, and within a couple hours, he was released from custody.
From the time officers were on scene, it took about five hours to locate and arrest Moody. No one was injured during the manhunt or the arrest. According to an email sent to The Mountaineer from the Haywood County Sheriff’s Office, Moody was apprehended without issue.
“A mile perimeter had been set up around the area the suspect was last seen,” the email reads. “A deputy on the perimeter observed the suspect emerge from the wood line, walking toward an open field. Another deputy close by gave verbal commands for the suspect to drop the firearm. The suspect immediately complied. The suspect dropped his firearm and was secured in handcuffs and transported to the Haywood County Detention Center.”
Moody was charged with three counts of felony assault on law enforcement with a firearm and is being held at the Haywood County Detention Center under a $50,000 bond.