Local News

Gunman shoots at family driving on I-95

Posted December 22, 2009 5:14 p.m. EST
Updated December 23, 2009 5:16 a.m. EST

— A Pennsylvania teen who was wounded when someone shot into his father's pickup truck Saturday night as they traveled on Interstate 95 South was released from the hospital Tuesday.

Ronald Simpson Jr., 17, spent more than two days in Cape Fear Valley Medical Center after being shot three times – twice in his torso and once in his left leg.

Simpson was riding with his father, younger brother and a third passenger, Michelle DiFillippo, at about 10 p.m. Saturday when another pickup pulled alongside them near Exit 41, outside Hope Mills, and someone in the second pickup opened fire, said Debbie Tanna, spokeswoman for the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office.

"It's just not something you expect to happen as you're driving down the interstate," Tanna said.

The victims weren't able to get a license plate number, nor were they able to see the make or color of the truck.

"They told us that they really didn't get a good description of the vehicle. We know it only to be a large truck," Tanna said.

Ronald Simpson Sr., 44, was shot in the right shoulder and was treated at Cape Fear Valley and released. His 13-year-old son, whose name wasn't released, and DiFillippo, 53, weren't injured. All four are from Avondale, Pa., but it's unclear what relationship DiFillippo has with the family, if any.

The Simpsons declined to comment Tuesday.

Investigators said they have no motive for the shooting, adding that the victims didn't say whether they had had a previous encounter with the second pickup truck. It's unclear where the victims were headed at the time of the shooting.

State Highway Patrol troopers said a drive-by shooting is extremely rare on I-95, which is packed with holiday travelers from Maine to Florida.

"It's not the kind of reputation you want to have with visitors coming through North Carolina. We have no idea why it happened," Tanna said.

Nearby residents said they were shocked by the highway shooting.

"There's not really a lot that goes on in that area as far as crime is related, not as far as I know of, so I really was shocked," Teasia Bethea said.