BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) - The SBI has cleared a Leland cop in connection to a deadly officer-involved shooting in December, District Attorney Jon David announced during a news conference Wednesday.
David said Officer Jacob Schwenk was justified when he used deadly force to shoot and kill Brent Quinn, 43, during an armed confrontation on Bridgeport Way in the Windsor Park community on Dec. 9.
"It is abundantly clear to me that had Brent Quinn lived, he would have been the only one charged with any criminal offense that night, to include the attempted murder of Officer Schwenk," David explained.
Assistant District Attorney Quintin McGee said the incident began when Quinn got into a verbal dispute with his girlfriend and left his residence in a white Kia sedan.
McGee said just before 9 p.m., authorities received multiple 911 calls about a vehicle fitting the description of Quinn's driving erratically along Bridgeport Way. The suspected vehicle reportedly struck bushes and nearly hit some mailboxes.
Schwenk responded to the neighborhood to investigate the claims and spotted the suspected vehicle at the end of Bridgeport Way.
Schwenk approached the vehicle to talk to the suspect and as he got near, Quinn exited the car and pulled out a 9mm handgun and began firing, McGee said.
Schwenk was shot six times -- once in the chest and five times in the legs -- and fell to the ground in a seated position. Schwenk managed to return fire at Quinn, hitting him six times -- including twice in the face -- killing him, McGee said.
The whole incident lasted about ten seconds, according to David.
Schwenk then radioed to dispatch that there was an officer down and emergency crews quickly responded to the scene.
McGee said fellow Leland Police Officer Charles McGee applied a tourniquet to Schwenk's leg which was a critical step in saving his life after his femoral artery was damaged.
"That was instrumental in saving Officer Schwenk's life," McGee said. "Officer Schwenk, who he himself was a former EMT, talked Officer McGee through the process of applying the tourniquet...slowing the bleeding."
Officials said Schwenk was also wearing a bulletproof vest at the time of the shooting.
Schwenk was rushed to New Hanover Regional Medical Center where he had surgery to save both of his legs.
David said he spoke to Schwenk Wednesday morning and that he is still recovering from the incident. Schwenk is out of the hospital but is still wheelchair-bound and can't completely use his right leg yet, according to David.
"Officer Schwenk is a hero as far as I'm concerned," David said. "He is someone that honored his oath and obligation. He confronted a threat that he would have no idea as he approached that car what this person was capable of. He needs to be commended for his quick action in saving his own life. He took a bullet for this community and for that we should be grateful."
After the shooting, David's office, Leland Police Chief Mike James and Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram asked the SBI to conduct an independent investigation into the matter.
Investigators searched Quinn's car following the shooting and found another loaded handgun.
District Attorney Jon David said toxicology results have not come in yet, but the investigation revealed that Quinn had consumed alcohol extensively that night prior to the deadly confrontation.
David said it's unclear what exactly motivated Quinn to open fire on Officer Schwenk. "As I stand before you today, I don't know what motivated Brent Quinn to do what he did, but we know exactly what happened," David explained. "It's very clear, for whatever reason, upon being confronted by Officer Schwenk, he made the fateful decision to pull out a gun and fire it multiple times."
David also dispelled the notion that Quinn was attempting "suicide by cop."
"'Was Mr. Quinn baiting this officer into a situation where he would be in a position to kill him?' I don't believe so," David explained. "It looks very clear to me from the comprehensive investigation, that Mr. Quinn had every intention of killing this officer."
David also revealed that Quinn had a conceal carry permit and was a former Marine.