Courtroom defendant shot, killed after rushing judge who had just read guilty verdict

News & Politics

A North Carolina man was shot and killed on Thursday after he allegedly charged a judge and attempted to grab a firearm from a courtroom bailiff.

Christopher Thomas Vaughan had just been convicted of a misdemeanor false imprisonment charge when he became enraged, according to WRAL-TV. Vaughan reportedly began yelling, threw a chair, and then allegedly rushed the judge inside the Person County Courthouse.

Multiple courtroom sheriff’s deputies attempted to subdue Vaughan. However, once Vaughan allegedly reached for a bailiff’s firearm — and reportedly was successful in grabbing it — a Roxboro police officer discharged his firearm, striking the defendant, and mortally wounding him.

Vaughan later died of his injuries after being transported to the Duke University Hospital in Durham.

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According to the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation, which is investigating the incident, a Roxboro police officer fired the shot that hit Vaughan. The officer’s name has not been released.

A Person County sheriff’s deputy and a Roxboro police officer were injured in the incident, suffering a head gash and a broken hand, respectively. The SBI said both were treated at a hospital and released.

Person County District Attorney Mike Waters, Wake County’s District Attorney Lorrin Freeman, and the North Carolina SBI are reportedly conducting an investigation into the incident that will last several months.

“The SBI is on the ground trying to do the investigation, and we’ll just see what the evidence brings forward,” Freeman told WRAL. “I think it’s prudent for all of those involved in running the courthouse to look at it once the criminal investigation is done [and] determine are there things that could have been done differently and are there changes that need to be made.”

Vaughan’s criminal record spanned nearly 20 years. State records showed he had convictions related to drugs, guns, assault, larceny, and breaking and entering.

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