Man accused of shooting at courthouse in downtown Raleigh faces federal charge

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A Cary man who was arrested after shots were fired at the Wake County Public Safety Center in Raleigh now faces a federal charge for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, the United States Department of Justice said Thursday.

Willie Lee Hayes Jr., 49, was charged Wednesday with attempted murder of a deputy and kidnapping a person at least 16 years old, according to warrants obtained Wednesday.

Hayes’ federal charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. He is scheduled to appear in court on this charge on Friday.

United States Attorney Robert J. Higdon Jr. issued the following statement:

“We are grateful for the swift action taken by our dedicated law enforcement officers and the Wake County District Attorney’s Office, who responded immediately to identify and arrest Mr. Hayes – the individual alleged to have fired multiple 9mm rounds into the Public Safety Center on Monday afternoon. This is an example of the critical role that law enforcement plays in protecting us every day. This crime took place in downtown Raleigh in the middle of the afternoon when the building was occupied by law enforcement, state employees, and members of the public. Miraculously, no one was hit by the discharged rounds. We look forward to presenting our case before the Court in the Eastern District of North Carolina, and will continue to closely coordinate with District Attorney Lorrin Freeman.”

The Wake County Sheriff’s Office said Willie Lee Hayes Jr., 49, drove in front of the center and started shooting around 3 p.m. Tuesday. A USDOJ release said a vehicle stopped in front of the building and a man in the passenger seat started firing with a handgun.

Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker said several people were both inside and out in front of the building at the time of the incident.

Witnesses told CBS 17 they heard anywhere from three to 10 gunshots. The bullets shattered glass.

Flying debris injured one deputy, causing minor cuts, according to the sheriff’s office.

According to court records, Hayes has been arrested more than a dozen times for charges ranging from assault to firing a weapon into a vehicle. Now he faces several more.

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