Clinton, N.C. — Seasonal farm workers appear to have been targeted during four burglaries in Sampson County this weekend, including one in which a 4-year-old boy was shot.
First, a man broke into a mobile home on Plantation Lane outside Clinton about 10:30 p.m. Friday, authorities said, and when he couldn't get into a bedroom, he fired through the door, striking the 4-year-old. The boy's father chased the gunman from the house, but he jumped into a waiting vehicle and fled.
"Within a matter of minutes," authorities got calls about a second burglary a short distance away, said Capt. Eric Pope, with the Sampson County Sheriff's Office. Three armed men burst into a labor camp at 2285 Turkey Highway and took a large television.
Meanwhile, the injured boy's family drove him to Sampson Regional Medical Center, and he was later airlifted to an undisclosed hospital. He was on life support and in critical condition Sunday.
Two more similar burglaries happened on Saturday night. All four cases involved migrant workers, and in two cases, the victims were preparing to move, authorities said.
Investigators said it's too early to definitively say the four cases are related, but a fifth attempted robbery and assault in Giddensville Sunday night does not appear to be related, Pope said. The sheriff's office plans to hold a news conference at 2 p.m. Monday.
Pope said the hope is that an open mouth or two can help solve the cases.
"Most criminals have a habit of not being able to keep their mouth shut. I would hate to know I was out there and had that information, and there's a 4-year-old child on life support," Pope said.
"This kid did nothing to no one, was laying in bed and had many years ahead of him," he added. "And now all of that is in jeopardy. For what? That's what you've got to ask yourself."
Anyone with information should call the Sampson County Sheriff's Office at 910-592-4141. Anonymous tips can be submitted by calling 910-564-5261.