Laurinburg police said teen shot by officer pulled gun first

By: Scott Witten - Editor

LAURINBURG —Police say that Desmond Bethea, the 18-year-old shot by an officer last week near Market Park, pulled a gun on officers.

According to a statement released this morning by the city of Laurinburg, Bethea is also accused of earlier shootings in the area.

Bethea is a suspect in the shooting of a 65-year-old person, shooting into a home and the assault on a police officer, the statement said.

The LPD said that on May 26, at 2:04 a.m., officers with the department were dispatched to the Laurinburg Food Mart, at the intersection of Lees Mill and Produce Market roads, after a report of a shooting.

When officers got there, they said that they found a 65-year-old person with a gunshot wound. That person was taken to a hospital. Police have not identified the victim.

While police were setting up the crime scene tape, people who live in a nearby home told police that, as they slept, someone fired a gun into their residence, according to the statement.

As officers continued their investigation, police said Bethea walked into the area. Bethea was asked to leave the area, but refused, according to police.

The officers approached him to arrest him, but they said he became combative and resisted the officers by hitting them with his fists.

As officers tried to make him stop, Bethea 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, police said.

Bethea’s family said he was struck 17 times by police gunfire.

Authorities did not say if Bethea has been charged.

Mayor Matthew Block said in a Facebook post that the statement issued by police was accurate.

“I feel it is part of my job, as mayor of our City,in major events like this that involve the Lbg PD, to not just TRUST the PD but also to VERIFY statements that are being put out to the public by the Lbg PD,” Block said. “I can tell you in complete and total honesty that this Press Release is a completely accurate account of what occurred.”

The police officer, who the city said shot back at Bethea, has been placed on administrative leave.

The SBI is conducting the investigation into the shooting.

Scott Witten