Police identify ECU scientist shot in unprovoked attack near elementary school

Police identify ECU scientist shot in unprovoked attack near elementary school

Chief Ted Sauls says his officers took the gunman into custody after an exchange of gunfire.

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – Greenville police say a gunman shot an East Carolina University scientist in an unprovoked attack near an elementary school this morning.

Chief Ted Sauls says his officers took the gunman into custody after an exchange of gunfire.

It started around 8:30 a.m. on East Fifth Street on a sidewalk adjacent to Wahl-Coates Elementary School, the chief said. The ECU employee encountered the man on a bike, and the chief said the gunman fired at least five times.

A school resource officer at the school heard the gunshots, as did students and staff.

The victim has been identified as 27-year-old Andrew Readyoff, a research scientist at the university. ECU says Readyoff has been with them since December 2020.

Police say fortunately the man only received what appeared to be non-life-threatening injuries.

The suspected gunman, 38-year-old Savell Hightower has been charged with multiple counts of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon intent to kill inflicting serious injury, assault with a deadly weapon intent to kill on a law enforcement officer, possession of a firearm by felon and possession of a stolen firearm.

After the shooting, police say Hightower continued on his bike down Fifth Street when an officer tried to stop him. “The officer exited his vehicle to attempt to detain the individual and was immediately met with gunfire from the suspect’ said the chief. “As soon as the suspect fired on the officer, the officer along with two additional responding officers, returned fire.”

“It’s definitely my first,” Anderson Ward, an ECU student who witnessed the shooting, said. “I haven’t exactly had anything happen like this before. But yeah, definitely a crazy start to my morning.”

Sauls says his officers were able to take the man, who wasn’t injured, into custody.

Police say they are still investigating a motive in the attack, but at this time say it appears to have been an unprovoked, random attack.

WITN obtained video of the encounter between police and the suspected gunman. In the video, at least ten gunshots could be heard.

“Key issue for me at this point is an unprovoked attack at 8:30 in the morning on a sidewalk, that is a concern to the community for sure. The proximity to the schools,” said Sauls.

The chief did praise the community’s and school’s quick action.

A witness says he woke up around 8:15 a.m. and heard eight to 10 gunshots, went outside, and saw multiple police cars.

Wahl-Coates was immediately placed on lockdown, while St. Peter Catholic School, which is about a block away, was put on a modified lockdown. Both lockdowns have since been lifted.

Police say the employee was shot here on East 5th Street.

Police say the employee was shot here on East 5th Street.

Police closed East Fifth Street between Elm Street and 10th Street for most of the day. It reopened shortly after 4:00 p.m. to all traffic.

Greenville police say motives are not known and ask people to avoid the area.

Sauls says the SBI will be brought in to investigate the officer-involved shooting.

Police say the gunman was on this bicycle.  What appears to be a handgun is next to evidence marker 14.

Police say the gunman was on this bicycle. What appears to be a handgun is next to evidence marker 14.

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