Local News

Suspect Arrested In Fatal Hope Mills Shooting

Posted March 29, 2006

— Cumberland County authorities have arrested and charged a man in connection with a fatal shooting Monday night near Hope Mills.

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Authorities said Johnathan Kincaid Lee, 21, of Rustic Ridge Road, died and five others were injured when gunfire erupted in the roadway of a house at Thornhill Road at about 10 p.m.

Residents in the area said they heard several gunshots in a row.

"As soon as I heard it, it was just pop, pop, pop -- so fast," said Tammy Lowery, who then called 911. By then, it was too late.

Ryan Omar Simmons, 18, who was wanted in connection with the shooting, turned himself in to authorities Tuesday evening, shortly before 6 p.m. He was charged with first-degree murder.

Lee, a junior at Fayetteville State University, had been arrested for misdemeanors in the past, although it was not immediately known whether he was ever convicted on any of the charges. Investigators would not say if they believe his past played a role in his death.

Authorities, however, are looking into whether the shooting may have been gang-related.

Lee's uncle, Rolf Woodard, said he did not think gangs were involved.

"I just don't see that, you know," Woodard said. He said Lee had other plans for himself involving law school and football.

Lee grew up in the Hope Mills area, and was a star football player at South View High School. South View Principal Robert Barnes Jr. said he knew Lee well and even helped him get his grades on track.

"You always have to wonder why 'this' kid," Barnes said about Lee's death. "And 'How could something like this happen?' But, those are questions I guess will be answered later on."

The five people who were wounded were taken to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center for treatment. Two of the injured people have since been treated and released.

Investigators have not released their names.

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