EASTOVER — One man's attempt to break up a domestic dispute has cost him his life.
Cumberland County detectives say Stephen Patterson, Jr., 32, was shot after trying to resolve a verbal domestic dispute involving his mother and stepfather Wednesday night. Patterson, a 10-year veteran of the Fayetteville Fire Department, died Thursday morning.
Patterson's mother, Diane, and Roger Deal, 41, lived together in a home on Dunn Road in Eastover. Detectives say around 10 p.m. Wednesday, Patterson's mother walked to her son's home, and asked him for help in a domestic argument.
When Patterson went to the home, detectives says he was shot by Deal. Detectives say Deal then fled the scene.
Deal was taken into custody about 11 a.m. Thursday in Columbus County after being stopped for a traffic violation. He is charged with first-degree murder.
Patterson's co-workers and friends from Station #3 are upset. They say they expect dangers on the job, but not at home.
"We enter burning buildings when everyone else is leaving them. We stand in roadways for vehicle accidents. It is just when something happens like this, when we respond to these types of deaths, and its one of your own, it's devastating," says Station Captain Richard Bradshaw.
A true family man, his friends say Patterson would have done anything for his mother. She was even living in a home that was on his property.
"He was my whole life, he was a junior. He was everything under the sun to me," says Stephen Patterson, Sr. of his son.
Although Patterson was trying to help, the director of a domestic violence program says it is always best for police to get involved instead.
"It would be volatile," says Crystal Black of CARE. "You don't know when a weapon will come into play. It is hard to access the level of danger that a situation has at the time."
Investigators say the couple had no previous record of domestic violence.
Patterson is survived by his wife and three children; the youngest is just two weeks old.
A memorial fund has been set up for Patterson's children. Contributions can be made at any BB&T branch in care of the Stephen Patterson Fund or can be mailed to: Box 1088Fayetteville, N.C. 28302