Teen arrested for May shooting

By: Staff report

LAURINBURG — The community was rattled back in May when there was an officer-involved shooting near Market Park that led to a teenage being shot and an ensuing SBI investigation.

Now, almost five months later, the teenager, Desmond Bethea, who was 18 at the time, has been arrested on multiple charges that are linked to that day. Laurinburg Police Officers responded on May 26 at 2:04 a.m. to the Laurinburg Food Mart, at the intersection of Lees Mill and Produce Market roads, after a report of a shooting.

When officers arrived, they said that they found a 65-year-old male with a gunshot wound. That person was taken to an area hospital. While police were setting up the crime scene tape, people who live in a nearby home told officers that, as they slept, someone fired a gun into their residence.

As officers continued their investigation, police said Bethea walked into the area and, when he was asked to leave, he reportedly refused. The officers approached him to arrest him, but they said he became combative and resisted the officers by hitting them with his fists.

Bethea allegedly then pulled out a gun and fired at both officers, according to Laurinburg police.

In response, one of the officers pulled his service weapon and returned fire, hitting Bethea multiple times, the police report said.

Bethea was taken to the hospital and his family told The Exchange at the time that he has been shot 17 times — but authorities did not confirm exactly how many times he was hit. His family had also held a vigil for them while he was in the hospital in Myrtle Beach.

The police officer who shot back at Bethea was placed on administrative leave and the case was turned over to the SBI. The SBI has reportedly finished the investigation and has turned over the findings to the district attorney.

As of Thursday at 11:20 a.m., Bethea had been arrested after warrants had been obtained for the incident.

Bethea, who is now 19, was charged with three counts of attempted first-degree murder, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon to government official, assault by pointing a gun, discharge of a firearm into occupied property, two counts of discharge of a firearm in city limits, injury to real property, going on to the terror of the people and possession of a handgun by a minor (under 21).

He was given a $5 million bond.

The Laurinburg Police are not commenting on the investigation at this time.


Staff report