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Spring Hope shooting tied to long federal prison term

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Nash County sheriff's deputies investigate a 2018 shooting near Spring Hope. The suspect, Brian Dunlow, has been sentenced to 21 years in federal prison.
Nash County sheriff's deputies investigate a 2018 shooting near Spring Hope. The suspect, Brian Dunlow, has been sentenced to 21 years in federal prison.
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A Roanoke Rapids man has been sentenced to 21 years in federal prison in connection to a 2018 shootout in Spring Hope.

Brian Lee Dunlow, 46, pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a felon in January. An indictment also accused him of possession of a stolen firearm and possession of a firearm in violation of a domestic violence protective order.

Nash County sheriff’s deputies responded to a home on N.C. 581 just outside Spring Hope on March 23, 2018, in reference to a shots-fired call.

Deputies learned that Dunlow had come home unexpectedly at around 9:40 a.m. to find his girlfriend moving out of their home with the assistance of four men from her church who had volunteered to help pack and load a moving truck, according to court records.

Dunlow became upset, pulled a gun and pointed it at the face of one of the men from the church. He fired a shot at close range, but missed.

The church man, a former corrections officer who was licensed to carry a firearm, drew his own handgun and returned fire, wounding Dunlow.

Several weeks later, on May 5, 2018, Roanoke Rapids police officers responded to a call from Dunlow’s mother’s home, where Dunlow was living at the time while recovering from the injuries he suffered during the March shooting.

Police quickly learned that Dunlow had stolen a firearm from his mother’s bedroom and was holding his mother and his wife hostage.

During the four-hour incident, Dunlow threatened his wife and struck her in the face and head with a cane, and caused a cut on his mother’s arm. Dunlow fled in his mother’s car, but was apprehended soon after with a loaded revolver in the car, according to information provided by Don Connelly, public information officer for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina. 

Due to an extensive criminal history that includes qualifying predicate convictions, Dunlow was determined to be an armed career criminal and subject to an enhanced sentence under federal provisions, Connelly said.

Dunlow’s conviction history includes multiple larceny counts and dates back to 1991, according to the N.C. Department of Public Safety.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Nash County Sheriff’s Office and the Roanoke Rapids Police Department investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Charity Wilson and Bryan Stephany prosecuted the case.

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