Local News

5 Charged in Restaurant Owner's Death

Posted August 2, 2007 5:10 p.m. EDT
Updated August 2, 2007 11:14 p.m. EDT

— Song Ni came to North Carolina to live the American dream. But that dream ended this past weekend when he was shot and killed during a home invasion.

Five people were arrested Thursday in the shooting death of the Stantonsburg restaurant owner, authorities said.

Ni, 34, was killed in a home invasion and robbery late Saturday. He owned Jin Jin Chinese Restaurant on Moyton Avenue and lived across the street from it.

Three masked men with guns assaulted two employees as they walked to Ni's house after closing the restaurant Saturday night, authorities said.

The men stole $700 from one of the employees and shot Ni before fleeing, authorities said.

Reginald Lemonte Atkinson, 36, Darryl Wilkes, 36, and Stacey Devon Atkinson, 18, have been charged with first-degree murder in the case, authorities said. Steven Maurice Joyner, 37, and Ellis Hunter III, 23, have been charged as accessories after the fact.

The men also are suspected in a series of armed robberies and other crimes in the past year from Raleigh to Wilson, authorities said.

The murder that turned Ni’s Wilson County home into a crime scene shook up Ruth Isler who lives next door to the family.

“Good people, good people,” she said. “They kept to themselves."

Ni lived with his girlfriend, their two young daughters and two of his employees.

“There were five people in the house” said Wilson County Sheriff Wayne Gay. “The suspects held a gun to the children’s heads and put a blanket over them to keep them from crying.”

A tip about another crime in Pitt County lead investigators to the three suspects now in jail without bond. Bond for Joyner and Hunter, charged as accessories, was set at $75,000.