Local News

Detectives: Violent drug dealer killed soldier

Posted May 1, 2009 9:52 a.m. EDT
Updated May 1, 2009 6:33 p.m. EDT

— The Cumberland County Sheriff's Office said Friday that a violent drug dealer is their prime suspect the shooting death of a soldier on a 15-day leave from Afghanistan at a Spring Lake club in late March.

Demar J. Bryan, 22, of an unknown address, faces charges in the slaying of Spec. Charles Clements, 27, who was based at Fort Hood, Texas, and the wounding of Arthur Mbwe, 26, a Fort Bragg soldier, at the Jamaican Restaurant and Lounge, 129 N. Main St., shortly after 4:00 a.m. March 29.

Detectives said Clements came outside the club while Bryan was fighting with a woman. Clements defended the woman, and the men exchanged words, but Clements went back inside the club and began dancing, detectives said.

Bryan later returned to the club and shot Clements and Mbwe while they were in the middle of a crowded dance floor, authorities said.

"Anybody on that dance floor could have been killed,” Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Bobby Reyes said.

He was accompanied by another person who investigators haven't identified yet. The described the man as having dreadlocks and being slightly taller and thinner than Bryan. They believe that person might still be in the Fayetteville area.

Despite the large number of witnesses, it took nearly a month to identify the shooter, detectives said, because Bryan has a reputation as a well-known and violent drug dealer. They said he has criminal records for dealing drugs in other states but did not gives details, citing the ongoing investigation.

Debbie Tanna, a spokeswoman for the sheriff's office, said that neither soldier knew the suspect before the shooting and were not connected to his drug activity in any way.

Clements was the father of three children, including a 3-month-old, his mother said.

Crime Stoppers has offered a reward for information leading to Bryan's arrest.

Authorities believe that Bryan has likely left the state. He is known to change his hairstyle, often wearing braids or keeping his hair short. They believe has close-cropped hair now.

Anyone who sees Bryan should not approach him. He is considered extremely violent and a threat to the community, Tanna said.

“He’s known to carry weapons. He’s very violent,” Reyes said.

Fort Bragg has since added the Jamaican Restaurant and Lounge to a list of places base officials ban their soldiers from going. The list is based on safety concerns.

Anyone with information about Bryan’s whereabouts should call the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office at 910-323-1500 or Crime Stoppers at 910-484-8477. Callers to Crime Stoppers are always anonymous.