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‘He’s not a villain,’ father says of man accused of shooting Raleigh officer

January 12, 2019
Cedric Jamal Kearney appears in court on Jan. 10, 2019, on charges that he shot a Raleigh police officer.

Cedric Jamal Kearney had fallen in with the wrong crowd, his father said Friday.

Kearney, 24, of 541 Rowland St. in Henderson, is charged with attempted murder and two counts of assault on a law enforcement officer with a firearm in connection with the Wednesday night shooting of Raleigh police Officer Charles Ainsworth.

Ainsworth was checking on a report that a car stolen last week by an armed man had been spotted in southwest Raleigh when he was shot several times, including in the neck. Officer B.A. Halpin was also shot at during the incident but wasn’t hurt.

Halpin returned fire but didn’t hit anyone, police said.

Ainsworth remains in WakeMed after undergoing at least one surgery.

“He’s not a villain, I can tell you that. I just think he hooked up with the wrong group, that’s all,” Kearney’s father, Timothy McQueen, said from his home in Maryland.

McQueen said he was stunned to hear about the charges against his son, saying they don’t reflect the man he raised.

“I don’t know who that child is right now. It ain’t the child that I raised,” he said. “I’m more hurt for the officer and his family because I know my child ain’t like that.”

Kearney grew up in Maryland and went to a military academy for high school, McQueen said, adding that he raised him to be respectful and disciplined.

“I feel like I failed him, but my pastor told me I didn’t,” he said. “He said, ‘You did your job, you know. You raised him to the man he was. He made his own decisions.’”

Before Wednesday, Kearney’s only prior criminal offenses were speeding charges from Brunswick County, Va., in September 2016 and from Vance County in October 2017 and a February 2018 reckless driving charge from Greensville County, Va.

McQueen said his son moved to North Carolina about five years ago – residents in Henderson say he lives off and on with his mother there – and, within the last few years, Kearney had cut his father out of his life.

Bridget Kearney likewise said the shooting is completely out of character for her son.

“I’m just, right now, torn apart that my son would even make any kind of bad decision,” she said. “I know my child – his demeanor, his character – just him as a person to do something like this, I just couldn’t even believe that this was even my child.”

Cedric Kearney worked for a time for a roofing company in Raleigh, his mother said. But his Facebook page, which includes photos show him displaying guns and making obscene gestures, doesn’t show any employment information.

“My son is not a criminal. I know he’s not. Whatever bad choice he made, I truly believe he was influenced,” Bridget Kearney said. “But it should’ve never happened – never, by anyone, not just my son, anyone.

“I don’t condone anything of violence or any criminal act,” she added. “I just want to say I’m sending out my condolences to all the families that are hurting behind this. Even though I know I’m hurting because this is my child, I have to face the facts.”

“I guess, you know, as life goes on, if he makes it through that life, he’s got to deal with his consequences,” McQueen said. ”[The] only person that can help him now is God. That’s it. Can’t nobody help him but God.”

He said he plans to be in Raleigh for Cedric Kearney’s next court date, which is currently set for Jan. 31, which would be the first time they’ve seen each other in three years.

Cedric Kearney, who remains in the Wake County jail under a $2.66 million bond, also is charged with robbery with a dangerous weapon, breaking and entering and felony larceny.

The breaking and entering and larceny charges are connected to a break-in at a Holly Springs home on Wednesday in which six guns were stolen, according to an arrest warrant.

The robbery charge stems from an alleged carjacking at an apartment complex off Western Boulevard last week – the case Ainsworth was following up on when he was shot.

Police say Antonio Dequan Fletcher, 21, of 501-E N. Benson Court in Cary, was with Cedric Kearney at the time of the shooting. He was arrested shortly after that on a charge of possession of a stolen firearm. He remains in the Wake County jail under a $50,000 bond, and prosecutors said he could face more charges.

Cedric Kearney was apprehended about a half-mile from the scene of the shooting about four hours later after he accidentally locked himself inside a storage shed. The homeowner saw someone trying to get out of the shed and called police.

“I’m confident that Mr. Kearney will have a fair result and fair trial if it comes to all that,” said Wake County Chief Public Defender Charles Caldwell, who is representing Kearney. “Wake County has very reasonable people, very understanding people. Obviously, everyone is upset when a circumstance like this comes up.”

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