NC deputy recovering after being shot while serving eviction notice

Sgt. Ronald Waller, a 20-year veteran, has a "long road to recovery" after undergoing two out of three surgeries

By Josh Shaffer
The News & Observer

RALEIGH, N.C. — The Raleigh man charged with shooting a sheriff's deputy with an AK-47 struggled with mental health issues and was largely estranged from his family, his mother said Thursday.

Neighbors in his apartment complex reported he survived on several jobs until the pandemic put him out of work.

Eddie D. Craig, 32, is in the Wake County jail on attempted murder and other charges, accused of shooting Wake Sheriff Sgt. Ronald Waller as he tried to serve an eviction notice Wednesday.

Waller, a 20-year veteran of the sheriff's office, underwent surgery at WakeMed Wednesday and started what spokesman Eric Curry called "a long road to recovery." He had the second of what will likely be three surgeries Thursday.

Raleigh police released a 911 recording of an unidentified man who called the shooting "a terrible accident" over an eviction that came too early. The caller then asks the dispatcher to tell officers the shooter would surrender peacefully.

"He tried to kick the door in, um, uh, and shots got fired," the caller said.

Sheriff Gerald Baker said Waller tried to serve the civil summons to Craig's apartment off Old Wake Forest Road in North Raleigh on Wednesday morning, but no one answered his knock.

He came by again and found Craig's door partially open, stopped a man inside from trying to shut the door and was hit twice by gunfire coming from inside the apartment.

'I just knew he's got problems'

Craig's mother, Louise Cole, told The News & Observer on Thursday, "I just knew he's got problems. He just stayed away from his family."

Cole, who lives in Alabama, said Craig had moved to Raleigh about five years ago and she thought he was seeking medical care here. She said she would often ask the Wake County sheriff to perform welfare checks and would hear back that he wasn't keeping up with personal hygiene.

"He moved away from home four or five years ago, and that was the last I've seen of him," said his sister, Latoyia Craig, also in Alabama.

While the sheriff does welfare checks, Curry said from the sheriff's office, deputies wouldn't handle those within city limits. He said deputies were not aware of any mental health issues prior to the shooting.

Outside Craig's apartment Thursday, neighbor Stanley Santana said Craig talked of serving with the Marines in Iraq. Santana said much of the neighborhood had heard Craig describe post-traumatic stress he experienced.

Santana said he thought Craig placed the time of his military service around 2003 and 2004, but he did not realize Craig was 32 and would have been a teen at the time.

"He just told me that (stuff) was crazy there," Santana said. "Random bombs going off and all."

Craig's mother said he had not served in the armed forces during his younger years in Alabama but she was uncertain of his more-recent record. He had gotten into trouble, "stealing and things" while at home and she had to put him out, she said.

Yelling at apartment officials

Santana said evictions in their apartment complex are common enough that he was not surprised to see a deputy's car Wednesday. Only about two weeks earlier, he said, management tried to remove Craig from his apartment without help from law enforcement.

"He basically yelled them out of there," Santana said.

River Birch at Town Center sits on a collection of private streets with permitted parking. Its office was not taking calls Thursday, and text messages from The News & Observer were not answered.

Debra Daniels, talking with Santana near Craig's apartment, said she was also standing in the parking lot when the shots were fired Wednesday, and she hit the ground.

"Eddie was a good person," she said Thursday. "He didn't bother nobody. I just wish he would have let the police do their job. Maybe somebody could have helped him get rent together."

Craig made his first appearance in a Wake County courtroom Thursday afternoon, speaking via video feed and wearing a COVID-19 mask.

He said he wanted to hire his own attorney until District Court Judge Ned Mangum asked if he was certain, reminding him that his bond is set at $4 million. He agreed to having a public defender appointed.

"I wish I could post bond," Craig said. "That's about it."

Craig had no prior criminal record in North Carolina.

Both neighbors said Craig had lived in his apartment for about two years. He had worked at a Jiffy Lube and an Arby's, and they would see him coming home in his fast-food uniform, carrying a take-out meal.

"Then the pandemic hit," Santana said.


(c)2021 The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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