Reserve Deputy Ted Blackwell faces charges of firing into a moving, occupied vehicle. (Photo: Henderson County Sheriff)

Reserve Deputy Ted Blackwell faces charges of firing into a moving, occupied vehicle. (Photo: Henderson County Sheriff)

A North Carolina reserve deputy who fired a shotgun at a suspected drunk driver fleeing from law officers has been fired and charged with a felony, Henderson County Sheriff Charlie McDonald announced Friday.

In a news conference just before 5 p.m. McDonald said the actions by Ted R. Blackwell, Jr., 64, had violated sheriff department policies. After an internal investigation that McDonald and District Attorney Greg Newman reviewed, the charges were brought.

Blackwell faces a maximum penalty of almost 17 years in prison on the charge of firing into a moving occupied vehicle. Given the lack of a criminal record, the maximum penalty would more realistically be four to five years, Newman told the Hendersonville Lightning.

The sheriff's department policy "strictly prohibits a deputy from discharging a firearm to warn, intimidate, frighten a person or to fire warning shots," McDonald said. "All of our officers are aware of that."

Blackwell was following the chase on a police radio and fired the shot from a personally owned shotgun as the fleeing driver passed his house in Dana on Friday afternoon, the sheriff's office said. Law officers who chased the vehicle through two apple orchards stopped the driver about three minutes after the gun blast. The driver, Jonathan Keith Lyda, 43, of 26 Imperial Drive, faces numerous charges.

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