Family seeks answers in Laurinburg shooting

By: Scott Witten - Editor

LAURINBURG — The family of a teenager whom they say was shot multiple times by a Laurinburg police officer Saturday morning want answers to what happened.

But city police say that they cannot release much detail until the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation has completed its work.

“There is not much to say right now,” said Police Chief Darwin “Duke” Williams. “The investigation is ongoing.”

What police have said is that they got a call at around 2 a.m. Saturday about shots fired near the intersection of Lee’s Mill and Produce Market roads.

Other than confirming that one officer was involved in the shooting, Williams was mum on details in the case.

Williams also declined to identify the officer or the individuals shot.

The police officer has been placed on adminstrative leave — standard procedure in an officer-involved shooting. The chief would not say if the incident was captured on the officer’s body cam.

EMS Director Roylin Hammond did confirm that two shooting victims were transported to Scotland Memorial Hospital Saturday and later airlifted to a hospital in South Carolina.

“There were two different calls. Whether they were related or not I can’t say for certain, but they were both transported from the same area at about the same time,” Hammond said. “The calls came in at a little after 2 a.m. and another around 2:30 [a.m.].”

The first individual was taken from the parking lot of Laurinburg Food Mart, and a second person with multiple gunshot wounds was transported from Wagram Street.

Wanda Bethea said one of the people shot was her 18-year-old grandson Dezmond Bethea. She told WPDE that the Scotland High School senior underwent eight hours of surgery on Saturday and will need more.

Bethea added that she is not sure why the officer shot her grandson, but she wants the truth to come out.

When reached Monday, Bethea said she was meeting with family members, but planned to speak to The Laurinburg Exchange later today.

Herman Tyson, president of the Scotland County NAACP, said he had spoken briefly with the family while out of town.

“I’m glad the SBI has been called in,” said Tyson, who also serves as director for the NAACP 6th District, “At this point, what we want is transparency. We are seeking the truth no matter where it takes us.”

Scott Witten


Reporter Beth Lawrence assisted with this story

Reporter Beth Lawrence assisted with this story