Local News

Woman Arrested in Shooting Death of NCCU Student

Posted January 9, 2007 8:10 p.m. EST
Updated January 9, 2007 11:41 p.m. EST

— Durham police Tuesday arrested a 911 dispatcher in Greensboro in connection with last week's shooting death of a North Carolina Central University student.

Shannon Elizabeth Crawley, 27, was arrested Tuesday evening in the slaying of Denita Monique Smith, 25.

Smith, a graduate student from Charlotte, was shot inside a stairwell of the Campus Crossing Apartments last Thursday morning and then fell down several steps to the sidewalk.

A maintenance worker at the apartment complex found her body at about 10:15 a.m. Police had responded to an earlier call for shots fired at approximately 8:30 a.m., but found nothing at that time.

Police said witnesses saw a woman driving away from the apartment complex in a burgundy Ford Explorer less than two hours before Smith's body was found.

According to Guliford Metro 911 officials, the department hired Crawley in 2000. She was suspended after being named a person of interest on Saturday in Smith's murder, the department said in a written statement issued Tuesday night.

Sources tell WRAL that Crawley  was arrested at about 7 p.m.  Clad in handcuffs and shackles, she was led into the Durham County Jail late Tuesday evening.

Police have refused to discuss any possible motives, but said that Smith's death did not appear to be a random act of violence.

Detectives spent the last five days interviewing more than a dozen people, including Smith's family members, friends and neighbors.

Investigators also spent several hours Friday interviewing someone they had identified only as a person of interest in the case. It's unknown whether Crawley was the person interviewed.

WRAL first learned on Monday evening that investigators were focusing their attention in Greensboro. It was not immediately clear why because Durham police would not comment.

In response to the shooting, the Durham Police Department will conduct a Project Safe Neighborhoods Community Response on Wednesday. It is a strategy utilized for violent incidents or crimes likely to have a retaliation effect among those involved.

The response consists of a door-to-door canvassing of the neighborhood where the crime occurred and where the victim live.

Smith received a bachelor's degree in English from N.C. Central and had planned to wrap up her thesis this semester. She was engaged to a Greensboro police officer.

Her funeral is scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday at University Park Baptist Church in Charlotte.

In a written statement, N.C. Central Chancellor James H. Ammons said: "What happened to Denita was unconscionable. She was an outstanding and promising young student whose life has been cut short. The arrest of a suspect will help us to begin the process of healing."