Local News

Questions Abound About Johnston County Shooting

Posted April 7, 2003 5:52 a.m. EDT

— Johnston County sheriff's detectives spent most of Monday trying to unravel the details behind a bizarre weekend shooting.

Saturday's shooting left one man dead and sent another to jail -- but not for pulling the trigger.

Accusations of sexual misconduct involving the victim's son led him to the suspect's home. Investigators are trying to sort out what happened from there.

People in the neighborhood blamed the Johnston County Sheriff's Office for taking too long to arrive at the scene after Ronnie Lewis was reported for exposing himself to children. The same people said Lewis should be charged with murder and taken off the street.

Gennifer Johnson said she couldn't believe her eyes when she went for a walk with her child and a neighbor's son earlier Saturday.

"I just saw him standing in the window, naked," Johnson said, speaking about Lewis. "He was looking straight at me, messing with himself."

Neighbors said Lewis exposed himself to children quite often. After seeing him Saturday, Johnson rushed the children she was with home and then called the Sheriff's Office.

According to police, Charlie McCain, the father of one of the children, decided to confront Lewis after hearing about the incident and waiting an hour for the authorities to arrive.

Police said McCain ran down to Lewis' home, smashed the front door and confronted Lewis.

Then, witnesses said they heard a single gunshot as Lewis allegedly shot McCain.

Moments before the shot rang out, Lewis had been on the phone with authorities to report McCain for breaking in to his home. Those listening to Lewis' 911 call could hear him tell McCain to "get out."

McCain died in the doorway with his feet still inside.

Renata Avery said she saw it happen.

"I saw him (McCain) when he fell down," Avery said. "That's when I ran in the house and called police."

Neighbors said they've complained often about Lewis' behavior. They said the system failed to prevent this tragedy.

Lewis had not been charged for the shooting as of Monday. He was being held on two counts of indecent liberties on a minor, one count of indecent exposure and one count of communicating threats.

The district attorney is reviewing the 911 tape to see if the shooting was justified.

Neighbors said McCain died trying to protect his son.

"He was just trying to take up for his son and tell (Lewis) it was wrong," Angela Riddle said. "He shouldn't have died for that."

The Sheriff's Office may not file charges against Lewis because of a 1993 law on self-defense. The law states that if an intruder comes into your home, you can use force, including deadly force, to protect yourself.

But, the law also points out that you have to "reasonably" believe the intruder may kill or seriously hurt someone in your home.