Local News

Community Reacts To Fatal Harnett High-Speed Chase

Posted August 24, 2004 9:19 a.m. EDT

— Harnett County is coping with the loss of a mother and her daughter following a high-speed chase involving five bank robbery suspects.

Roame Jackson, of Benson, and Gregory King, Stephen Swinton, John Kelly and Jodie Steele -- all of Fayetteville -- are each charged with two counts of first-degree murder. They appeared in court Monday.

Jackson, the driver, is also charged with speeding to elude arrest, exceeding 100 mph in a 55 mph zone and careless and reckless driving.

According to police, the men tried to rob the First Federal Savings Bank in Erwin, then sped off, leading officers on a high-speed chase.

Authorities say the suspects even avoided stop sticks used by officers to flatten tires before Jackson crashed a white Lincoln Continental, into a gold Jaguar driven by Wanda Knox.

Knox, and her 17-year old daughter, Shannon, were killed.

"I've known Shannon since I was younger. This is a big loss," friend Talia Colon said as she fought back tears.

Many people have questioned whether police should have engaged in a high-speed chase, but Harnett County Sheriff Larry Rollins said it was warranted.

"These were five bad men. They needed to be stopped," he said. "This entire incident was about five to six minutes and to be able to coordinate and do everything that we needed to do, we did the right things as safely as we possibly could."

Inside the courtroom Monday, emotions ran high on both sides.

"All I can see was the little boy I raised. I saw his face and I wanted him to see mine and I wanted him to know I'm still his father," David Jackson said of his son. "He made a terrible choice. He has to be a man and stand up for what he did."

The men are being held in the Harnett County Jail. Prosecutors have not decided whether to consider this a capital case.

Counselors spent Monday consoling students at Harnett Central High School, where Knox was a student and her twin sister still attends.

"I don't know if there are any right words. We tell them that we are definitely sorry about this, and we don't understand why it happens either," counselor Brenda Brown said.

U.S. 401 at N.C. 210, the site of the fatal collision, has become a makeshift memorial with flowers and cards for the mother and daughter.