Search Continues for Suspected Shooter
The Iraq veteran accused of shooting two Caldwell County Sheriff's deputies and killing one is still missing. Flags in Lenoir were flying at half mast yesterday for the deputy who was killed Friday night. And at the Caldwell County Sheriff's Office, a helicopter took up a swathe of the parking lot, ready to go if Skip Brinkley was located. Over the weekend, 500 officers, including those from the local Sheriff's office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the State Bureau of Investigation were combing the neighborhood of Oak Hill just 8 miles east of downtown Lenoir and the hills surrounding it. B.J. Fore, a spokesman for the Caldwell County Sheriff's Office, says that search turned up few clues. "We were stressing our resources. I mean these guys were in the woods and we'd not developed anything so we had to try a new approach," he said. "Now we've gone back to more of an investigative mode where we have teams of investigators out in the neighborhood talking to all of the neighbors, handing out wanted posters. Just trying to do basic investigation to see if we can develop any leads." Fore says about hundred officers are now trying to locate Brinkley. The Sheriff's Office doesn't know if he's still in the area or could have hitched a ride out of North Carolina. Over the weekend, Oak Hill Elementary, which is located a short distance from the shootings, served as the command center for the search operation. Yesterday, kids were back in class-and at least two Sheriff's deputies were posted there throughout the day. Volunteers from the Catawba Valley chapter of the American Red Cross were picking up cots from the school's gym where dozens of law enforcement officers slept over the weekend. The community center beside the school also served as a rest place and a food stop for searchers. Jackie Smith and Shirley Teeters, who work at the day care center there, helped feed the officers. Yesterday they were trying to make sense of why Brinkley could have shot at the two deputies. "We just want to know what tripped his trigger there, to not have had anything in his past. No known violence," said Smith. Teeters added, "A good neighbor, a good family in the community. We just feel like something went off in his brain that got himit may have been some sort of stress syndrome that just happened." Teeters couldn't help but wonder if the fighting in Iraq could have changed Brinkley, but she shrugged her shoulders and said she wasn't sure about that since she only knew his family. Earlier this year, the New York Times looked at 121 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who either committed a murder or were charged with one after they returned from war. The newspaper reported that combat trauma or the stress of deployment appeared to play a part in dozens of these cases. The Sheriff's Office says up until now Brinkley has had a clean record, only a few minor traffic violations. According to records at Caldwell County's Clerk of Court Brinkley changed his name last year. It had been Larry Wayne Brucke Junior, but according to the records Brinkley wanted his step-father's last name because he said he was more of a father than his biological father.