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Man arrested in Nash courthouse shooting released

A man arrested hours after a Tuesday morning shooting outside the Nash County Courthouse has been released after questioning, authorities said Wednesday.

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NASHVILLE, N.C. — A man arrested hours after a Tuesday morning shooting outside the Nash County Courthouse has been released after questioning, authorities said Wednesday.

Sheriff Dick Jenkins said during a Tuesday evening news conference that Ontarius Montrae Lewis, 23, was the gunman in the shooting, which left two men wounded and put the quiet town of Nashville under a lockdown for several hours. Lewis was charged with attempted murder.

In a brief statement issued Wednesday morning, the Nash County Sheriff's Office said that Lewis was questioned late Tuesday and was released. No other information was provided.

Authorities are still searching for Demond Levar Morris, 36. He was named Tuesday as the second suspect in the shooting and is wanted on a charge of attempted murder in the case.

But they have not identified him as the shooting suspect, and said investigators are "working on several leads" in the case. Nashville Police Chief Thomas Bashore said Nash County deputies and his officers are "looking for additional suspects," although he couldn't provide a precise number.

People at the courthouse Wednesday were stunned to learn that the gunman wasn't in custody after all.

"How would they get the wrong person?" asked Calvin Parker.

"They arrested the wrong guy. I don't know what to say about that," Charles Ezzell said.

Lewis' cousin said late Tuesday that authorities had arrested the wrong man, insisting that he was with her at a local Walmart when the shooting occurred.

Shooting victims Donte'a Evans and Lamar Ricks were listed in critical condition Wednesday at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville. Evans was shot in the hand and leg, while Ricks was shot in the back.

Jenkins said Evans and Ricks were targeted and knew their assailants, but investigators haven't determined a motive for the shooting.

Nashville Mayor Donald Street said the town is trying to move past the shooting, but residents remained on edge Wednesday, knowing that the gunman was still on the loose.

"This sudden thing happening, it's of course a shock to the town because we don't have this type of activity here," Street said. "We haven't had it forever. It's unfortunate these people decided it was time to do something violent in our town, and people did become upset."

The courthouse reopened Wednesday morning, and the Nash County Sheriff's Office tried to calm residents' nerves, saying in a statement, "We still believe that the courthouse is a safe place to come and go, and we strive to ensure that you are safe when you are here."

Dalena Raya and her coworkers spend a lot of time at the courthouse in support of domestic violence victims.

"I believe it's a crazy, scary thing," Raya said. "I never feel uncomfortable going to court. I don't feel uncomfortable going back."

Parker wasn't as confident.

"I was scared to come back today, if they're shooting right at the courthouse door," he said.

Authorities are offering a $10,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction in the case.


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