By DEUCE NIVEN
A Tabor City ambulance crew responding to a headache call Wednesday instead faced a violent man who had already beaten his girlfriend, leaving both EMT’s injured in a confrontation inside their ambulance, law enforcement and department officials said.
Randolph Marcus Smith, 33, of Autumn Chase Lane, was charged with two counts of assault on emergency workers, assault on a female in the attack on his girlfriend, said Sgt. Timothy Inman of the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheila Denise Roberts, 46, and Linda Gail Russ, 38, were attacked by Smith as they placed Smith’s girlfriend in the back of their ambulance at about 4 p.m. Wednesday, Inman said.
“I don’t know what was wrong with him,” Inman said. “They were loading the woman, he goes over and pulls his girlfriend off the stretcher, pushes Sheila against the door. He slammed her into the door, warped the door.
“He’s wound up, and nobody knows the reason.”
Roberts suffered a serious right shoulder injury, though an x-ray showed no broken bones, said Mike Worley, chairman of the Tabor City Emergency Services board of directors. Roberts also had bruising to her hips.
Russ, who is chief of the department, suffered a broken left little finger.
Both women will be out of work for some time, Worley said. Surrounding departments were asked to answer calls in Tabor City’s district overnight Wednesday, Worley said.
Russ and Roberts reacted quickly as they came under attack, calling for help by radio, then pressing an orange button on their handheld radios that signals a “help me quick” emergency to dispatchers, Worley said.
Help came quickly, from the Tabor City Police Department, Tabor City Fire Department, Whiteville Rescue Unit, and Fair Bluff Fire & Rescue.
“Everybody was coming to our aid,” Worley said. “I just want to thank everyone, I want them to know that I appreciate everybody that helped.”
Worley said dispatchers were apologetic for sending the crew into a violent scene, but that they had no way of knowing the call was more serious than the headache reported by the caller.
“The girls handled it very well,” Worley said. “I was really proud of what they did and the way they did it.”
Worley said the department wants Smith prosecuted.
“I told the deputies I want him prosecuted for everything they can,” Worley said.
Because of the history, calls to the Autumn Chase address will be flagged in the future, Worley said.
“I don’t care what it is, our people will not go there without law enforcement there first. This could have been so much worse.”