Family of shot teen plans community vigil

By: Scott Witten - Editor

LAURINBURG — The family of a teenager shot following an altercation with police last month plans to hold a prayer vigil on Saturday.

The vigil — Together We Stand, Divided We Fall — will be held at 6 p.m. at Market Park, near the site of where 18-year-old Desmond Bethea was shot by a Laurinburg police officer on March 26.

Police said that Bethea was trying to interfere with the investigation of a shooting earlier that morning and when approached by officers became combative and then tried to shoot at police.

Authorities said that Bethea is a suspect in the earlier shooting of a 65-year-old man and the shooting into an occupied residence. He has not been charged.

It is unclear how many shots struck Bethea, but his family said he was hit 17 times.

Wanda Bethea, the teenager’s grandmother, said Desmond remains in critical condition in a hospital in South Carolina.

“He is still fighting,” she said. “I believe in God and that he is going to come through. We are just taking it day-by-day.”

She added that the family would like to see any video or audio recording of the incident. State law leaves it up to the law enforcement to decide whether to release a body cam or dash cam video.

Bethea said that she holds no animosity toward the police, but insists that something needs to be done curb violence in the community and improve the public’s rapport with police.

“We want to see if there is anything we can do to help one another to make this a better community and stop the violence,” she said.

The Laurinburg officer involved in the shooting, who remains unnamed, was placed on administrative leave. The SBI is investigating the case and will give their findings to the Scotland County District Attorney’s Office once the investigation is completed.

Scott Witten

Editor

Reach Scott Witten at 910-506-3023

Reach Scott Witten at 910-506-3023