SBI completes Houck shooting death investigation

James HowellStaff

March 13, 2013

The N.C. State Bureau of Investigation has finished its investigation into the shooting of Mark Houck and is now waiting for the final autopsy report.

“The SBI investigative work is complete. The report can’t be delivered to the DA until the autopsy report has been finalized,” said Jennifer Canada, the assistant public information officer at the N.C. Department of Justice.

Once the final report is completed, the DA will determine if the shooting was justified or if charges will be filed.

Last month, Canada said the investigation was in its “final stages,” but could not provide a more certain date for the completion of the investigation into the shooting.

The shooting occurred after four officers responded to a call about a man shooting a gun off of his porch on Gaither Poe Road at approximately 11 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 19. The man was later identified to be Mark Houck, 47, of the Laurel Springs community.

“The officers identified themselves, and ordered the man to put down his weapon. Subject refused to comply, and began pointing the weapon at the officers. Officers fired their weapons, striking and killing the subject,” said the Nov. 20 press release from the Ashe County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff James Williams from the Ashe County Sheriff’s Office later said “shots were fired both ways” during the incident. He also said “placing officers on leave after a shooting is standard procedure.”

The officers involved in the shooting were Deputy Joshua Hopkins and Deputy Jeremy Munday from the Ashe County Sheriff’s Office and Officer Jake Howell from the West Jefferson Police Department.

The three officers were placed on administrative leave by Williams for several weeks after the shooting. The officers returned from leave on Jan. 5 (Hopkins and Munday) and Jan. 6 (Howell).

Deputy Brandon Howell from the Ashe County Sheriff’s Office also responded to the call but was not placed on administrative leave.

According to Noelle Talley, the public information officer with the N.C. Department of Justice, the ACSO requested an investigation from the SBI after the shooting.

Agents with the SBI, said Talley, are responsible for the investigation. Their role is to gather evidence, conduct interviews with those involved and then prepare a report for the local district attorney who will determine whether or not to file charges.