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CMPD: Officer Fatally Shot Woman Who Lunged At Police With A Knife

Adam Bell
Charlotte Observer

A Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer responding to a domestic argument fatally shot a 20-year-old woman Wednesday night after she lunged at officers with a kitchen knife, authorities said Thursday.

CMPD identified the officer as Anthony Holzhauer, 27. This is the second time Holzhauer has fatally shot someone, and the third shooting he was involved in since 2012.

Holzhauer was cleared by the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s office in the 2012 shooting of a suspect who tried to pull out a gun while wrestling with another officer. And in 2013, he was one of the officers involved in a shootout with suspects who had fired at police; no one was injured.

At a Thursday morning news conference on the latest shooting, Chief Rodney Monroe said CMPD is not looking to refer charges against Holzhauer “at this point,” but the case will be turned over to the district attorney for review.

When asked by the Observer if CMPD ever had any other officer involved in more than one fatal shooting, Monroe said, “That’s a question I asked and we’re researching it.” He thought that has happened before, but added, “The majority of our officers are not involved in any shooting.”

Holzhauer, a five-year veteran of the force, was hired in January 2010. He has been placed on administrative leave, as is standard procedure.

Lakita Laney Perkins, a cousin of the man Holzhauer fatally shot in 2012, said her “heart just dropped” when she learned of the latest fatal shooting by Holzhauer. But she wasn’t surprised.

“I feel like once you kill, you will kill again,” she said. “He just needs to be off the force. Period. We need some justice.”

The Wednesday night shooting

Monroe and CMPD described what happened Wednesday night:

Authorities received a call shortly before 9 p.m. about domestic violence involving two women at an apartment in the 2700 block of Bellefonte Drive off West 30th Street near North Tryon Street.

They were met outside by a woman who said she had been arguing with her domestic partner pretty much all day, and her partner was inside armed with a knife.

Officers went in to speak to the other woman in a small living room. She was on the couch holding a 6- to 8-inch knife.

After being told several times to drop the knife, the woman moved into a crouch, extended her arm and lunged at the officers. Holzhauer shot her twice, police said, with one bullet striking the woman’s hand and knife, and the other bullet hitting her in the shoulder.

No one else was injured. The shooting was witnessed by another woman in the apartment; she is the sister of the dead woman’s partner and there also was an infant in the apartment at the time, Monroe said. The child belonged to the partner of the deceased, police said.

The woman who was shot was taken by Medic to Carolinas Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead. Police identified her as Janisha Fonville.

Holzhauer was taken to the hospital but was not injured. Monroe had earlier described Holzhauer as shaken, the Observer’s news partner, WBTV, reported.

At the news conference, Monroe said, “There is concern for the officer and his well-being” after this third shooting. “Some may say it’s bad luck on the part of the officer.”

CMPD has dual investigations into the fatal shooting, with internal affairs as well as the homicide/assault with a deadly weapon unit looking into the incident.

Holzhauer could not be reached for comment.

Police ask that anyone with information about the case call 704-432-8477 or Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.

Monroe said police had been called to the address several other times for domestic disputes, an assault and an attempted suicide. An unreported incident there four days ago involved two people and knives, Monroe said.

A 2012 charge against Fonville of resisting a public officer was dismissed, Mecklenburg County records show.

Other incidents

In July 2012, Holzhauer fatally shot 28-year-old Michael Laney in the head in the Biddleville neighborhood off Beatties Ford Road, police said at the time. Laney was an armed robbery suspect.

Hours after the shooting, Monroe defended Holzhauer’s actions, saying he had no choice after Laney tried to pull a handgun from his waistband or pocket as he wrestled with another officer.

“They were in fear for their lives,” Monroe said at a news conference.

Laney’s relatives told reporters at the time that police overreacted. But the district attorney, Andrew Murray, determined there was no evidence that Holzhauer had acted unlawfully.

And in September 2013, Holzhauer and another officer were following up on a 911 call about men loading firearms in a vehicle. When they approached the car, the men in the vehicle fired at the officers, who then returned the gunfire.

The suspects drove away, but following a chase, were caught in Cabarrus County.

Observer researcher Maria David contributed.

See video of the press conference at CharlotteObserver.com