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Bullets May Have Gone Through Door Before Killing Durham Teen

Posted December 6, 2006
Updated December 7, 2006

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— Some of the shots fired by New Hanover County deputies serving warrants went through a door before hitting and killing a Durham teen last week, a pathologist said.

Peyton Strickland, 18, a student at Cape Fear Community College, was killed Dec. 1 at his Wilmington home. Nine deputies accompanied University of North Carolina at Wilmington police to the house to serve warrants for Strickland's arrest and to search the house.

Strickland, a roommate and another man were suspected of assaulting a UNC-W student on Nov. 17 and stealing two PlayStation 3 consoles from him, authorities said.

The pathologist who performed the autopsy on Strickland said "some of the bullets went through intervening targets, probably the door," before hitting the teen, the Wilmington Star-News reported Wednesday. Two bullets passed through Strickland's head and shoulder before lodging inside the house, Dr. Charles Garrett said.

Garrett told the newspaper that he's working with the State Bureau of Investigation to determine how close the deputies were to Strickland when they shot him.

By law, officers can't shoot from the outside into an occupied home unless they believe their lives are in imminent danger.

Witnesses said Strickland, who was remembered Wednesday during a memorial service in Durham, was unarmed during the shooting. He died of a gunshot wound to the head.

People familiar with the house said the front door, which investigators removed from the home after the shooting, had several panes of glass through which someone could see.

Detective Larry Robinson, 34, Sgt. Greg Johnson, 39, and Cpl. Christopher Long, 34, have been placed on administrative leave pending the results of investigations by the SBI and the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office.

Sheriff Sid Causey previously had declined to identify the deputies involved in the shooting, saying he feared for their safety. The department has been inundated by hate mail and threats in recent days, he said.

After all three deputies had moved their families, Causey asked their permission to identify them.

He refused to identify the other six deputies who were at the house at the time of the shooting.

"It's just a black cloud over all (of us), over the entire office," he said. "It's just a bad situation."

Robinson has been with the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office since 1994, while Johnson, who works in the Detention Division, and Long, a member of the Emergency Response Team, were hired in 1996.

Long was involved in a 2001 shooting in which he fired twice into a car that was accelerating toward him after a traffic stop. He was later cleared of any wrongdoing.

WRAL has learned that Strickland voluntarily surrendered to Wilmington police in an earlier criminal case where he was accused of assaulting another student. People who knew Strickland said they believe that, if given the opportunity, he would have turned himself in to UNC-W police in the PlayStation case.

There was no word on whether deputies contacted Wilmington police on how they handled their case before raiding Strickland's house last week.

Neither the sheriff's office nor the UNC-W police would comment on the investigation into the shooting.

Strickland's roommate, Braden Delaney Riley, 21, of Apex, was arrested Monday and charged with armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon and breaking and entering a motor vehicle, according to Ryan David Mills, 20, of Durham, Strickland's friend who was arrested last week on similar charges.

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