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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