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Police Release Names of Officer, Suspect in Fatal Robbery Case

Posted July 27, 2007
Updated July 29, 2007

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— Fayetteville Police on Saturday released the names of the officer and suspect involved in the fatal robbery-turned-car-chase Friday night.

Officer Victor Starling shot and killed robbery suspect Chester Coburn, 22, after Coburn and another man allegedly tried to rob Chisolm’s Used Cars, police said.

Coburn and Nathaniel Barron, 28, went to the used car dealership at about 6:30 p.m. Friday when one of them shot an employee, police said. The employee was taken to Cape Fear Valley Medical center with non-life threatening injuries.

After the robbery, a description of the men’s car was broadcast city-wide. Officers on routine patrol on the All-American Freeway noticed a car matching the vehicle’s description and tried to stop it, according to the city's account.

The driver refused to stop and a pursuit began.

After making a number of turns, the car rammed into one of the patrol cars head on. The driver kept going and struck a Honda Accord and a Ford Ranger pick-up truck at the intersection of Cliffdale and Castle Rising roads, police said.

After the second collision, Coburn jumped out of the car and ran, police said. Starling chased him on foot. At one point, Coburn stopped and turned toward Starling in what police said was "a threatening manner." Starling gave several commands that Coburn ignored, they said.

“Fearing for his life, [Starling] opened fire, striking the suspect,” police said in a news release.

Coburn was taken to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

Coburn has a history of charges involving robbery and guns, according to court records.

In March, Coburn was charged for assault with a deadly weapon, trafficking cocaine and possessing a firearm as a convicted felon.

His felon status stems from a conviction for felony common-law robbery in October 2003. At that time, he was serving for probation for carrying a concealed weapon in March 2003.

For the felony conviction, Coburn was given a suspended 15-month jail and 24-month probation.

Coburn violated that probation in September 2004 and served jail time for possessing drug paraphernalia. He was released in August 2005.

Starling was also taken to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center for minor injuries.

Officers arrested Barron in the car shortly after the traffic accident. He did not require medical attention.

The condition and identities of the people involved in the traffic accident with the car were not immediately available.

Per department policy, the Fayetteville Police Department’s Office of Professional Standards will conduct an administrative internal investigation into the shooting.

The State Bureau of Investigation was notified and will conduct a joint investigation with city police, officials said.

Starling, who is a veteran officer with more than 15 years experience, will be on administrative duty until the investigation is complete.