K-9 team honored for role in arrest

Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.


A Wilson County deputy and his canine have been recognized by a national organization for their part in a January incident where a trooper was shot and injured.

The United States Police Canine Association, one of the nation’s oldest and largest police K-9 organizations, awarded senior deputy Justin Vaughan and K-9 Bruce with a regional award for “outstanding” work.

Authorities say 36-year-old John David Jones shot N.C. State Trooper Daniel Harrell on Jan. 14 after he initiated a traffic stop for a towing violation on Haynes Road east of Elm City. Jones was later captured in a wooded area off Cattail Road, and Vaughan and Bruce assisted the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office Special Response Team and other agencies in that arrest.

“Senior Deputy Vaughan placed a canine ballistics vest on K-9 Bruce before entering the wooded area to apprehend the suspect,” according to the USPCA. “K-9 Bruce was able to keep all officers out of danger for the safe arrest of the possible armed suspect.”

Vaughan and Bruce showed their abilities of how a properly trained team should perform, according to the USPCA. Both were awarded a certificate.

Harrell was struck by gunfire at least twice in the facial area during the incident. Harrell returned fire and chase ensued, according to officials.

After being shot, Harrell also continued to chase the men until their vehicle turned around and collided with Harrell’s, hitting him head-on and disabling his vehicle, officials said.

Harrell, who is assigned to Troop C, District 5, which covers Wilson and Greene counties, is a third-generation state trooper. He was released from the hospital two days later.


Because of Vaughan and Bruce’s efforts, they will now be eligible for the National Case of the Year award presented by the USPCA. That award is presented to a K-9 team who has performed exceptionally under difficult circumstances and with an exceptional ability in law enforcement utilizing a police service dog.

Sheriff Calvin Woodard said the recognition of Vaughan and Bruce was very dear to not only him but the office.

“Bruce was the first K-9 when I developed the K-9 program, and he will be retiring Aug. 1 — and what a way to retire,” Woodard said. “The K-9s are part of Wilson County Sheriff’s Office family and beneficial to the daily operations of this office as well as service to the citizens.”

Others charged in connection to the Jan. 14 incident include 40-year-old William Allen Boswell and 25-year-old Bryan Jeffrey Mullins, who face possession of a stolen vehicle charges. Their cases are still pending.