DOBSON — A 45-year-old Mount Airy man is behind bars after police say he shot two men following an argument early Wednesday morning.
Sheriff Graham Atkinson said Michael Vestal McNeal, of 139 Orchard Street in Mount Airy, was taken into custody Wednesday afternoon just a few doors down from where authorities said the crimes occurred.
He has been charged with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, inflicting serious injury. In addition, McNeal has been charged with one count of discharging a firearm into an occupied vehicle.
He is being held in the Surry County Jail under a $450,000 bond.
Atkinson said the incident began when McNeal and the victims re-ignited a dispute that began more than a decade ago.
The argument ended with gunfire that sent a Dobson man and an Ararat, Va., man to the hospital to be treated for gunshot wounds, Atkinson said.
According to the sheriff, Donald Bradford Carter, 43, of Ararat, Va., and Harold Ray Vernon, 48, of Dobson, received gunshot wounds to their legs in the incident, which began in the street in front of 182 Eleanor Ave., in the Flat Rock community.
“They were there to visit a friend, and the alleged shooter reportedly waved them down in the road, at which time they stopped their vehicle,” he said. “The suspect then started shouting at them related to an argument that took place about 15 years ago.
“The suspect then produced a semi-automatic handgun and opened fire, shooting into the vehicle at least four times,” Atkinson added.
The first shot struck Vernon in the upper left and right thighs, while Carter was struck by another shot in both thighs.
After the shooting, Vernon and Carter left the scene in the bullet-riddled 1992 Ford F-150, attempting to reach Northern Hospital of Surry County.
“Vernon was originally the driver, but Carter took over after the shooting,” said Detective J.D. Briles, who has interviewed the victims. “Two tires had been shot out during the incident as well, and as they were traveling up Worth Street, the vehicle ran up on the curb in front of Woods TV. Carter got out and walked to a relative’s house, leaving Vernon in the car.”
Officers with the Mount Airy Police Department responded to the Worth Street scene and transported Vernon to the local hospital, according to investigators. Mount Airy police then notified the sheriff’s office, since the shooting happened in the county.
Atkinson said about a half hour elapsed between the shooting and his department receiving the call.
“Our office received the call at 12:40 a.m., from the Mount Airy Police Department that there were shooting victims at Northern Hospital,” he said.
Both victims were transported to Wake Forest Baptist Hospital with what officers describe as non-life-threatening injuries.
McNeal was taken into custody at 287 Eleanor Avenue, according to the sheriff.
Reach Keith Strange at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1929.