Fallen Deputy Laid To Rest In Somber Ceremony

LENOIR COUNTY, NC -- More than a thousand people paid their final respects Saturday to a fallen deputy sheriff.

The service for Lenoir County Detective Allen Pearson at Kinston High School Performing Arts Center lasted about 90 minutes. An estimated 200 law enforcement officers were there, from as far away as Texas and Florida.

Many officers talked to WITN about their job and how dangerous it can be.
Greenville Police Officer Kelvin Wilson said, "You try not to think about it. You go out and do a job and hope the Lord is with you every time."

William Heath of the Edgecombe Sheriff's office said, "My thoughts are what happened? What went right and what went wrong??

Peggy Keel whose son is a deputy said, "You have to grieve for his family. Because I look at it as it could have been my son out there Tuesday night. He was out there, but my son was spared. And you have to ask yourself, how can you chose which one?"

(To view gallery scroll down to end of story)

Pearson was then buried with full honors at the Pinelawn Memorial Cemetery. Included was the playing of taps, an honor guard, and a bagpiper.

WITN's Dave Marcheskie says there were so many cars in the funeral procession that it took an hour just to park them at the cemetery.

At least one mourner was overcome and required medical treatment at the cemetery.

Click here to leave your condolences for the family and friends of Allen Pearson.

The 29-year-old Pearson was killed early Wednesday morning in shootout which left his partner wounded and the gunman dead. Authorities say the gunman, Clarence Douglas Phillips, killed his girlfriend in Craven County earlier in the day.

Both deputies were part of the Special Response Team that went into the woods after Phillips began firing his gun. The deputies were wearing full body armor when they approached the gunman.

Detective Ryan Dawson underwent two surgeries at Pitt County Memorial Hospital to remove bullet fragments from his neck. He was released from the hospital Friday afternoon and could attend today's funeral.

Pearson is survived by his wife, Katherine. His father is Major Rickie Pearson with the Lenoir County Sheriff's Office.

The family asks In lieu of flowers that donations be made to the Rickie Allen Pearson Jr. BLET Scholarship Fund at Lenior Community College, P.O. Box 188 Kinston 28502. Checks can be made payable to the LLC Foundation.

Friends of the slain deputy have also set up a fund for Pearson's wife.

Donations can be made at any Wachovia Bank branch toward the Katherine W. Pearson Beneficiary Account.

Contributions can also be mailed to:

Wachovia Bank
Attn: Brandy Schmidt
119 North Horner Blvd
Sanford, NC 27330


Friday's Story

A deputy sheriff, injured in a shootout early Wednesday morning, is now out of the hospital.

Detective Ryan Dawson was released from Pitt County Memorial Hospital around 1:30 p.m. Friday afternoon.

"We are ecstatic about his rapid recovery," Major Chris Hill said Friday afternoon.

The 28-year-old Dawson was initially listed in critical condition when first transferred to PCMH Wednesday morning.

The deputy underwent two surgeries to remove bullet fragments in his neck and was upgraded to serious Wednesday night and then to fair condition yesterday.

His partner, Detective Allen Pearson, was killed in the same gun battle on Tick Bite Road.

Pearson Services

Visitation for Deputy Pearson will be Friday evening at Howard & Carter Funeral Home from 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. The funeral home is located at 1608 West Vernon Ave. in Kinston.

Deputy Pearson's funeral will be Saturday at the Kinston High School Performing Arts Center at 11 a.m. He will be buried at Pinelawn Memorial Cemetery.

Though there may be rain and storms overnight Friday and into Saturday morning, WITN Meteorologist Jim Howard expects weather conditions to improve before the funeral begins. Jim says conditions will be dry, but breezy, with temperatures in the mid-60s at 11 a.m. Saturday.

The family asks In lieu of flowers that donations be made to the Rickie Allen Pearson Jr. BLET Scholarship Fund at Lenior Community College, P.O. Box 188 Kinston 28502. Checks can be made payable to the LLC Foundation.

There's also been a fund set up for Katherine Pearson

Donations/Contributions can be made at any Wachovia Bank branch. When making a contribution inform representative that it is for "Katherine W Pearson Beneficiary" account. Any one not able to visit a local branch may mail payments indicating for the Katherine W Pearson Beneficiary account to:

Wachovia Bank
Attn: Brandy Schmidt
119 North Horner Blvd
Sanford, NC 27330

The two deputies were shot by an armed man on Tick Bite Road near Grifton.

Both deputies were part of a Special Response Team that went into the woods after suspect Clarence Douglas Phillips began firing his gun. The deputies were wearing full body armor when they approached Phillips.

Sheriff Billy Smith says Pearson was wearing a level 3 bullet proof vest, the highest available, but he was shot in the shoulder.

Phillips was also wounded in the exchange of gunfire and he later died at PCMH.


Wednesday's Story

The suspect who authorities say killed one deputy and wounded another in Lenoir County Tuesday night died Wednesday morning.

Clarence Phillips is also accused of killing his girlfriend.

"It has been a very eventful night, a very sad time for us here. We are all emotionally distraught over this and this is a new road for us," Lenoir County Sheriff's Office Major Chris Hill told WITN News.

Killed was Detective Allen Pearson, while Detective Ryan Dawson was wounded. Authorities say both deputies were part of the department's Special Response Team, and were outfitted with full body armor.

WITN News has learned that both deputies come from a law enforcement family. Pearson's father, Rickie, is a major with more than 30 years with Lenoir County. Dawson's father also works for the department.

A Pitt County Memorial Hospital spokesperson told WITN Tuesday evening that Dawson is in serious condition.

The Lenoir County Sheriff's Office says their deputies responded to a call around 10 p.m. Tuesday that a man was in the woods firing his gun.

Lawmen say deputies found Phillips in a car registered to a woman in Craven County. When deputies arrived at the scene, in the wooded area off Tick Bite Rd. near Grifton, lawmen say Phillips had a gun. They say the suspect ran from the car into the woods. Deputies warned Phillips to stop shooting his gun. Officials say he did not. The suspect and deputies exchanged gunfire.

Lenoir County lawmen ran a check on the license plate of the car Phillips ran from, and found it was registered to Cynthia Tillet Knighten of New Bern. Craven County lawmen went to her home and found her dead.

Craven County lawmen say they had to break into Knighten's home since no one answered the door to their knocking. Deputies found her body in her bedroom around 10:30 p.m. Tuesday.

An autopsy shows Knighten died from blunt for trauma to the head.

In Grifton, the Lenoir County Sheriff's Office Special Response Team eventually approached Phillips. Lawmen say, Phillips turned his high powered rifle on the deputies. Officials say two deputies were shot, one fatally.

"This particular man was waiting for these officers and a gun battle ensued," Hill said.

Pearson, age 29, died at Lenoir Memorial Hospital, officials say. Dawson, age 28, was shot in the neck and was airlifted to Pitt County Memorial Hospital. Major Hill says Dawson had successful surgery this morning at PCMH.

Dawson is married with two children. He has been with the Sheriff's Office since 2003. Pearson was married as well. He had been with the Sheriff's Office since 2001.

"We lost one good detective, really super guy, likable in the department and this man hurt another one of our people," said Hill.

The Lenoir County Sheriff's Office says the gunman was taken to Lenoir Memorial Hospital with multiple gunshot wounds.

Department of Corrections records show Phillips has a criminal history. Phillips was convicted in 2004 with assault with a deadly weapon with the intent to kill and communicating threats. In 1999, records show Phillips was convicted of assaulting a female.

Craven County lawmen say Phillips had been living with Cynthia Knighten at her home in New Bern for a short time. Knighten is separated from her husband who is currently working in Japan, according to lawmen. They say Knighten's husband is not a member of the military.

Knighten was a MRI technician and left a job at Onslow Memorial Hospital in February.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Anonymous on Aug 8, 2009 at 05:58 PM
    Let it go for God's sake.
  • by Joyce Location: Lenoir Co. on Apr 14, 2009 at 08:14 AM
    My sympathy to the four families that suffer at this time. LCSD has lost one of the better officiers it had.For those that keep asking why this Phillips guy was on the streets, well it all goes back to money and the laws that apply to one kind but not to others. The whole law system needs to be reworked with honest people not the crooks that run it now.The lawyers are on the top of the most crooked list then you can go on with the district attorneys and don't forget the judges.I will save my other comments because this really is not the place for this I just keep reading why was Phillips out , this is why. my condolences to all four families again.
  • by ~ALPHA female~ Location: O84P on Apr 14, 2009 at 12:24 AM
    Detective Allen Pearson"s family... when my Grandma passed.. I didn't cry because she went home.. I cried because she left me here. ...So I won't say goodbye to Detective Pearson... I'll just say... See you later... and tell Grandma.. I miss her!
  • by nathan Location: greenville on Apr 13, 2009 at 01:56 PM
    To the Pearson and Dawson families: two great guys, along with the other LEO's involved, who know what bravery and honor are all about. I am a LEO and a former member of the military. I have a few comments for Matt in N.J. Matt, you probably grew-up in a suburb, graduated from high school, attended a University, and started working in your career upon graduation from college. Not the time nor the place to posts your political opinions, but if you do, explain your position. What experiences in life do you base your opinions on? Better yet, what life experience other than school and your current job, do you possess? If you would like to discuss this further, my e-mail address is nateandjess4@earthlink.net.
  • by Wanda Location: Kenansville on Apr 13, 2009 at 12:27 PM
    Mr. Phillips (deceased) has caused alot of pain. There are many victims including the deceased female. My condolences are with her family and friends.
  • by BB Location: Kinston on Apr 13, 2009 at 11:06 AM
    I just wanted to throw a quick word to reporter Dave Marcheskie. I spoke to him at the cemetery on Saturday and I must say that young man has given me such a great impression. The compassion and care he showed for the family and one of my dearest friends. I caught his coverage Saturday and he is an excellent young man. Cudos for WITN for getting a guy who finally gets it! R.I.P. AP!
  • by Mary Location: Kinston on Apr 13, 2009 at 03:01 AM
    I just wanted to say I see a lot of people remembering the family of Allen in prayer and that's what I'm doing alot areusing names, which is good but I don't see many people saying his wife or even using her name. She need to be reconized if our prayers just like his parents and sibling. So lots not forget his wife !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • by Lisa Location: PCSO on Apr 12, 2009 at 08:57 AM
    My heart is so heavy for all of the families involved in this senseless tragedy. May God be with and comfort these families in their time of need. To the families of Det. Pearson and Det. Dawson, know that your extened family of LEO's are here for you.To all, hug and kiss your family,tell them how much you love them, we are never promised tomorrow so embrace today. God Speed.
  • by Darius Location: greenville on Apr 12, 2009 at 08:33 AM
    Dave is becoming my favorite reporter. his coverage of this story was very moving. I look forward to listening to his reports. God bless the family of the slain officer
  • by Marie Andrews Location: greenville on Apr 12, 2009 at 07:52 AM
    To the parents of the slain victim I submit this poem in your honor. I wrote it when my son Kenneth Andrews was murdered on 17 July 2007 Losing A Child To Homicide It hurts to lose a child to homicide No one really knows to a Mother how it feels inside It feels like your heart is being ripped apart The womb you so carefully carried him in has began to rot To lose a child to homicide is the worst pain of all To know that God has put his name on his roll call To sit and wander if there was anything that I as a Mother could do Will slowly drive you insane, as it has a few To lose a child to murder Is a pain that hurts like no other You remember their laughter and tears, their first word, the moment they smiled But now they are memories that will haunt you for awhile To give a child up to homicide and a senseless murder Is like the pain of childbirth, it is a pain like no other Some days are good when you remember their smile Some days are bad and we try to forget for awhile I take lots of pills to help me sleep So in my mind the remembrance of death will not creep I have cried so much my head continues to pound I cry often when I remember you will never again be around People let me grieve, they even let me cry Thinking I will finally be able to say to you Goodbye But the pain in my heart is like no other The pain is here because a son has lost his Mother
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