Ex-Chatham County deputies facing charges after drinking, firing gun while off duty, police say

Local News

PITTSBORO, N.C. (WNCN) – Two Chatham County deputies who were dismissed after an investigation into shots fired in Pittsboro on April 11 are now facing charges, according to the Pittsboro Police Department.

Pittsboro police responded to a report of shots fired around 10 p.m. on April 11 in the area of West Salisbury Street. Officers found three people standing in a parking lot where the shots were heard, the release said.

The three people were all off-duty law enforcement officers.

According to multiple 911 calls, two shots had been fired in the vicinity.

Pittsboro police “quickly found evidence on scene to suggest that at least one of the subjects was responsible for the shots fired,” the release said.

All three had been consuming alcohol and initially refused to answer questions, according to the news release. Police found multiple personal firearms at the scene, which they said further complicated the investigation.

Two of the three were identified as Chatham County deputies.

Sheriff Mike Roberson immediately suspended them pending an internal investigation, the release said. By April 14, the two had been dismissed, citing dishonesty and multiple policy violations, according to the release.

Roberson said he spoke with the district attorney the following week about the possibility of criminal charges against the ex-deputies.

Police on Thursday identified the two former deputies as Alexis Bonilla, 24, of Siler City and Gregory Barrett, 27, of Robbins.

Bonilla and Barrett “were carrying concealed non-departmental issued weapons while consuming alcohol” when shots were fired, police said.

Bonilla is charged with discharging a firearm inside the city limits of Pittsboro and carrying a concealed gun after/while consuming alcohol.

Barrett is charged with carrying a concealed gun after/while consuming alcohol.

The third suspect was identified as a sergeant with the Siler City Police Department, according to the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office.

“As law enforcement, we must be good stewards of public trust,” Roberson said in the release. “Our internal investigation was handled swiftly and professionally, and we feel the final decision was the right one. Dishonesty or criminal behavior will not be tolerated within the ranks of the Sheriff’s Office.

“Thankfully, no one was injured during this incident and no property was damaged as a result of the discharge. Our office is cooperating fully with the investigation and we have verified that no assault occurred.

“We may never have all of the answers, but we can take this as an opportunity to pause and reflect on what we can do differently going forward. These young men had seemingly bright, long careers ahead of them — but it can be a struggle to meet the high demands and expectations associated with this job. As law enforcement, we are trained that firearms and alcohol do not mix. However, we must do more as a profession to help officers cope with negative thoughts or emotions in positive, constructive ways.”

Sheriff Mike Roberson

The Siler City sergeant is no longer working with the Siler City Police Department, Pittsboro police said.

The now-former sergeant “was not carrying a weapon, was not found to have violated any North Carolina laws and as such was not charged with any crimes,” police said.

Bonilla and Barrett have an initial court appearance set for May 26 in Pittsboro.

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