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Violence, tragedy claim 13 lives in 2018

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Police tape blocks off a portion of First street after a report of gun shots were fired in the area Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018.

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The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Violence and tragedy claimed at least 13 lives in Pitt County in 2018, including six people since October, while demands for a civilian board to review police matters and criticism of Greenville councilwoman also made headlines in crime-related news over the last year.

Five people have been killed in homicides in Greenville since October, according to reports from the city’s police department. A murder-suicide also claimed the life of elderly couple in February, and three people were killed by Greenville officers responding to crimes in January, April and September.

Outside of Greenville, a woman was killed at her home near Ayden in April and a man was stabbed to death outside his home west of Greenville in July, according to Pitt County Sheriff’s Office reports. A man also shot and killed his father to protect his mother at their home north of Greenville on Christmas eve.

The year that was 2018 also included sensational court cases, gunfire at a local movie theater that prompted a massive police response and evacuation, and sheriff and district attorney races that brought new faces to the positions.

HOMICIDES INVESTIGATED

At least 10 people died under violent and tragic circumstances in 2018, the first two on Feb. 6 when an elderly Greenville couple was found dead after an apparent murder-suicide.

Greenville police responded to shots fired at 105 S. Warren St. shortly after 12:30 p.m. Within half an hour, most of South Warren and nearby First Street were crowded with emergency response vehicles, and dozens of officers began surrounding the house.

Officer made several attempts to contact anyone inside and eventually deployed a robot to enter the premises. Officers entered the residence shortly after, discovering the couple dead from apparent gunshot wounds.

An investigation determined that 82-year-old Lloyd Ray Hardee shot and killed 78-year-old Sybil Worthington Hardee then shot and killed himself. Police recovered evidence from the scene that led investigators to treat the deaths as a murder-suicide. A note also was found.

Sybil Hardee, who worked at the Courtside Cafe for many years, was known for being a good cook. Ray Hardee was a well-liked postal worker who helped out with projects around the neighborhood. In other incidents:

■ Violet Langley Webb, 66, was beaten to death at her home at 1659 W. Hanrahan Road near Ayden on April 2. Her body was discovered by firefighters who responded to a fire at the home about 5:15 p.m. Several pets also died. Her neighbor, Wesley Boseman, 20, 1641 W. Hanrahan Road, was charge by deputies with murder and setting the fire.

■ Melvin Lee Tyson Jr., 48, was killed July 10 after an altercation with a friend about 5 a.m. at his home at 1740 Kathryn Lane west of Greenville. He died at the scene from a stab wound to the lower abdomen. Alvin Jerome Tyson Jr., 30, of 1488 Kathryn Lane was charged with an open count of murder by the Pitt County Sheriff’s Office.

■ Raekwon Davon Moore, 22, was stabbed during a fight at Evans and Fifth Street about 10:30 p.m. on Oct. 13 and later died from his injuries. Moore and a second man exited an SUV near Fifth and Evans Street and began assaulting two other people, Greenville police reported. Everyone directly involved in the incident has been identified by police but no charges have been filed.

■ Seth Nicholas Street, 19, of Greenville, was shot to death about 5 p.m. on Oct. 20 in front of an ATM in the parking lot of Harris Teeter, 2120 E. Fire Tower Road. Billy Earl Grizzard III, 30, of Simpson was charged with murder, and his girlfriend, 30-year-old Kellie Anne Moseley, was charged with accessory after the fact by Greenville police. Gizzard and Street were acquainted. Gizzard and Moseley were arrested after a manhunt and chase in Beaufort County. Gizzard was shot during the arrest. Gizzard also was charged with an attempted robbery that occurred earlier in the day.

■ Shantelle Pope, 27, 102 Tyson St., was killed by gunfire about 9 p.m. Nov. 13 outside her home. She was standing with two others outside when shots were fired. Police do not believe she was the target, but she died two days later. Travis Daquan Roberson, 23, of Greenville and George Quintin Knight, 32, of Greenville were charged by Greenville police with first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder

■ Ralph Boggs, 23, was shot about 9:30 p.m. Nov. 19 outside an apartment on Holly Glen Drive, the Greenville Police Department reported. Witnesses told police they heard gunfire and discovered Boggs suffering from a gunshot wound in a parking lot. He was dead by the time officers arrived, the department reported. Police believe he was targeted. No arrests have been reported.

■ Joseph Pate, 52, of Beaufort County was shot to death shortly before 6 a.m. on Dec. 16 in front of Pitt-Greenville Airport’s main terminal. A coworker, John Wesley Reid, 49, of 2496 Pulmosa Drive, Grimesland, turned himself in a short time later and was charged with murder by Greenville police.

■ George Thomas Chance, 44, was shot and killed by his son, 20-year-old Gejuan Chance, during a violent domestic dispute that took place about 6 p.m. on Dec. 24 at their home on 3372 Old River Road. Sheriff Paula Dance said Chance, an active duty U.S. Marine, was protecting his mother during the dispute and the homicide was justified. No charges were filed.

POLICE SHOOTINGS 

Greenville police were involved in three fatal shootings in 2018 including an incident downtown when they responded to man firing a weapon into a crowd of people outside a nightclub about 1:30 a.m. on Sept. 9.

A man later identified as Brandon Joyner, 24, of Greenville, had been involved in a dispute that spilled into an alleyway near Fifth and Reade streets, according to witnesses. Police said Joyner began shooting and several officers nearby shot and killed Joyner.

Two other men were injured, though authorities have not said who shot them. The officers who responded were identified as Richard Burke, Michael Dail and Macon Haddock. Additional officers had been stationed downtown in response to the fatal stabbing of Raekwon Davon Moore on Oct. 13 and several other violent incidents.

On Jan. 2, an off-duty Greenville officer, Timothy Greene, shot and killed a 35-year-old shoplifting suspect during an altercation outside a Greenville sporting goods store. The man was later identified as David Melton of Goldsboro. 

The altercation began about 3:30 p.m. after the Greene was alerted by a civilian of a man shoplifting at Academy Sports, 3428 S. Memorial Drive, the police department reported. The officer confronted man, identified himself and displayed his credentials.

A struggle followed and the man attempted to attack the officer with a knife, the department reported. The officer defended himself and shot the suspect.

On April 1, a man’s attack on his wife led to a fatal shooting by an officer in the Charleston Village neighborhood off of Thomas Langston Road.

A 39-year-old woman had called a family member about 2 a.m. to report her husband was attacking her with a knife. The family member called Greenville police.

Officer Antonio Webb entered the home and found the injured woman and a 16-year-old boy. Brian Bellamy, 41, approached Webb with a kitchen knife.

Webb backed away from the house and off the property but Belamy continued to advance. That is when the officer fired, the department reported.

AMC THEATER SHOOTING

A dispute over seating at a showing of the movie, “Black Panther,” prompted a panic and an immediate and massive response by law enforcement when a man fired at least one shot from a pistol into the ceiling at the AMC theater on Feb. 23.

Greenville Police Chief Mark Holtzman said the officers flooded the complex on Fire Tower Road after receiving calls from inside Theater 2 that shots had been fired. No one was hurt in the incident.

Chadwick Earl Cherry, 40, of Tarboro, and his girlfriend Shameeka Latrice Lynch, 30 of Greenville were later arrested and charged in the shooting.

Police said Cherry fired a pistol into the ceiling and created a panic. Calls to police from inside the theater prompted an active shooter response by several waves of police officers.

The incident occurred in the wake of national concern sparked by the killing of 17 students and staff members on Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

CIVILIAN REVIEW BOARD

A majority of Greenville City Council members said in September they do not support establishing a civilian board to review complaints against the police department, spelling trouble for a process that would also require approval from the state assembly.

Advocates have lobbied city and elected officials throughout the year to create an appointed body to oversee complaints. City Council members asked city staff to research the request early in April, officials said. Staff made a presentation on June 25 that offered information about how boards had been established in other communities.

The presentation prompted little discussion, and the council took no action. Advocates meanwhile have regularly appeared before the council to detail allege police misconduct and press the council to take move ahead on the matter.

The Daily Reflector last week began polling all council members on the issue. District 1 Councilwoman Kandie Smith offered no comment. Only District 2 Councilwoman Rose Glover offered her public support of the concept of a review board.

Mayor P.J. Connelly, At-Large Councilman Brian Meyerhoeffer, District 3 Councilman Will Bell, District 4 Councilman Rick Smiley and District 5 Councilman Will Litchfield all said they do not generally support such a board.

Establishing a board would first require the city council’s approval by a majority vote. If approved by council, the board would have to be chartered by the N.C. General Assembly.

OFFICERS FILE SUIT

Two former Greenville Police Department detectives and a current officer announced Aug. 2o they are suing a city councilwoman for actions they say she took against them following a May 13 arrest of an associate school superintendent from Rocky Mount.

The officers, represented by the N.C. Police Benevolent Association, announced they had filed the suit against Kandie Smith in Pitt County Superior Court. Smith, who was a member of the City Council at the time, was elected in November to the state House of Representatives.

The suit claims that Smith was motivated by “personal animus” against the police department when she filed a complaint against them on behalf of Leondus Farrow of Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools. Farrow was arrested after a traffic stop and charged with being intoxicated and disruptive and possessing an open container of alcohol in the passenger area of a motor vehicle.

The complaint and political pressure from Smith resulted in the unwarranted dismissal of Detectives Travis Brinkley and Brock Flannery and disciplinary action against Detective Joshua Smith, all members of the police department’s anti-gang unit, the suit claims.

It says Chief Mark Holtzman and other administrators were “thoroughly cowed” by Smith’s activism against police and that Holtzman stated to Detective Smith that he was taking the disciplinary action “for political reasons.”

FATAL FIRE

Firefighters found the body of Bryan Carr, 34, about 2:30 p.m. on May. 26 after extinguishing a fire at 3701 Reggie Court, near the Pitt County Fairgrounds. According to sheriff’s office spokesman Lt. Kip Gaskins, Carr had been living in a building at the address for an undetermined amount of time. 

The state Medical Examiner’s office later said Carr died from smoke inhalation and thermal burns. The cause of the fire has not been determined. Carr’s parents have said they believe foul play was involved but the sheriff’s department ruled the death accidental.

AUTISTIC MAN’S KILLER GUILTY

Michael O’Neal, 24, was found guilty in the death of Steven Joseph Rouse, 22, on Oct. 19, 2015. O’Neal was sentenced to 31 years in prison and also was ordered to pay $5,000 to Rouse’s family.

Rouse was stabbed repeatedly during an altercation in a field near his home in the Park West apartments near the medical district. He collapsed on the pavement near a loading dock of a Walmart Neighborhood Market. He was pronounced dead a short time later at Vidant Medical Center.

O’Neal testified that he stabbed Rouse in self-defense after Rouse threatened him and a friend with a knife. The dispute arose over what O’Neal described as Rouse’s harassment of O’Neal’s girlfriend. Three other co-defendants in the case — Curtis Wade, Taylor, and Chenitra Gramby — are awaiting trial.

MURDER FOR HIRE 

A jury on Feb. 17 convicted James Edward “Ed” Smith for hiring a hitman, Clay Edwards, to kill his wife in July of 2017, and a judge sentenced Smith to 6-8 years in prison. Instead of going through with the plan, Edwards backed out at the last minute and contacted Greenville police.

During the emotional trial which lasted for several days, details of an affair by Smith emerged and Smith’s lover took the stand. The prosecution was aided by Assistant District Attorney Anthony Futrell’s emotional appeal to jurors, which was preceded by several video and audio recordings of Smith’s negotiations with Edwards.

NEW SHERIFF AND DISTRICT ATTORNEY 

Pitt County voters on Nov. 6 elected and new sheriff and district attorney. Sheriff Paula Dance became the first black female sheriff in the state and was officially sworn in Dec. 3. Faris Dixon will be the first black person to hold the district attorney’s job and will be sworn on Friday.

“It was a journey to get here but I’m here and here we are,” Dance said. “This is not the end of the journey and I want you all to understand that this is only the beginning. As we move forward in unity and in inclusiveness, let’s all work together to keep our community safe. I am proud to be elected as your new sheriff. And even prouder to lead the way for others to follow. Pitt County, I am proud of you and I hope I can make you as proud of me as well.”

Dance took the baton from former Pitt County Sheriff Neil Elks who served two terms. She defeated Republican Gary Weaver, a longtime State Highway Patrol sergeant.

Dixon defeated Republican Glenn Perry to replace District Attorney Kimberly Robb. Robb, who fired Dixon from his job as an assistant district attorney, did not seek re-election, opting instead run for state Senate. She lost that bid to incumbent Democrat Don Davis.  

“This was a long hard race,” Dixon said. “I have to thank all of my loyal supporters and most of all, I give credit to my lord and savior, Jesus Christ. I intend to serve the public, and I want Pitt County to be proud of our DAs office. I want to be accessible to our citizens and find out what changes they want to see happen. My goal is to make sure the office is transparent and citizens have confidence in what we do,” Dixon said. 

TOP STORIES of 2018

The Daily Reflector is looking back on the biggest stories of the year. This if the final installment of the series. This series is divided into categories, as follows:

Dec. 26: ECU sports

Dec. 27: Education

Friday: Arts & Entertainment

Saturday: Business & Industry

Sunday: Pitt County

Monday: ECU & PCC

Tuesday: City of Greenville

Today: Crime & Rescue

Follow the series online at reflector.com.

 

 

 

  

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Crime and Rescue

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