Beyond the Headlines: New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office gifts 9-year-old with new bicycle

This weekend, there’s a 9-year-old child in New Hanover County with a smile on her face.
Published: Mar. 4, 2022 at 11:04 AM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - So often, stories make headlines one day and disappear the next. This weekend, there’s a 9-year-old child in New Hanover County with a smile on her face. It’s an important reminder that, for those involved in those headlines, life moves on.

“It was the worst call I’ve even been on.”

That’s saying a lot coming from Master Deputy R. Sawyer with the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office. She’s been with the force 9 years, so she’s got that perspective.

Back in November of 2021, she was on the call of a hostage situation on Bozeman Road with reports of a 9-year-old girl being taken from her home at knifepoint.

According to the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, that call ended with the suspect being fatally injured in an officer-involved shooting.

“Deputies arrived on scene and observed the suspect in the front yard, holding a knife to the child’s throat and making threatening statements,” a sheriff’s office news release states. “Deputies observed that the female child had cuts to her neck and head area. Deputies also located a male victim suffering from a gunshot wound to the face in the yard. He was transported to NHRMC with life threatening injuries.”

According to officials, the Emergency Response Team was called in to negotiate with the suspect who eventually died.

Fast-forward a few months into the new year, and the sheriff’s office responds to a call at the same address. This time, a shed had been broken into, and stuff was missing. Included in that “stuff” was the 9-year-old girl’s bicycle.

“It was heartbreaking for her to go through all this, you know she’s such a strong little girl,” says Master Deputy Sawyer. “She’s very brave, and for the bike to be stolen from her it was definitely heartbreaking.”

It turns out about 10 members of the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office pitched in to buy that girl a new bicycle.

“You know most of us are parents, we get it,” said Sgt. A. Adams with the Sheriff’s Office. “You know, any time you have a situation like that where we can help, anybody in the community, that’s something we can try and do.”

Follow up “good news” stories rarely make headlines. You can see the moment below; the girl’s face blocked out to allow her the privacy to move on from the tragedy.

Deputies pitched in to buy the victim, a nine-year-old girl, a new bike.

“There’s always hope,” says Master Deputy J. Benson. “We hope this girl can remember this as a good thing for the rest of her life.”

Remember that the next time you hear a 911 call or see a cruiser whizzing by. Every shift, their name plates may identify them as deputies, but on this day they’re a 9-year-old’s heroes.

“We encounter a lot of negative aspects in our job,” says Benson, “anytime we can do something like this; it’s always a positive.”

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