Local News

Suspect in deadly Johnston County shootout caught

Posted October 16, 2010 7:40 a.m. EDT
Updated October 16, 2010 10:58 p.m. EDT

— Johnston County authorities arrested a 17-year-old who they believe fled Friday evening when an attempted robbery turned into a shootout with a restaurant owner that left one suspect dead.

Felipe Alejandro Ortiz, of 307 W. Jones St. in Selma, was charged with attempted murder and attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon. He was denied bond.

The state Highway Patrol identitfied Ortiz as a suspect after a search near the Shoeheel Grill, Grocery and Gas, 8212 Old Beulah Road.

Sheriff Steve Bizzell said that an armed man came into the store around 6 p.m. Friday and pointed a gun at the store owner's 13-year-old son. The store owner, 59-year-old Donnie Creech, came out of a back room carrying a weapon. In an exchange of gunfire, the suspect was hit but ran outside.

Bizzell said Creech grabbed a second weapon, chased the suspect outside and was confronted by a second armed man – identified by authorities as Ortiz. They exchanged gunfire until the second suspect ran into a wooded area.

The first suspect was found dead in his van.

The identity of the suspect killed in the shootout has not been released, pending notification of family.

"If you're put in a life-and-death situation, I'm pretty sure anyone would've responded," Donnie Creech's older son, Donnie, said. "You've got to take care of yourself, take care of your family."

The store owner, his son and two female employees in the store at the time were not injured. Bizzell said they would have likely died had the owner not been armed.

Well-wishers gathered at the Shoeheel Grill Saturday. It was open for a short while to replace the glass door.

"It's just a gathering place in this area. Food's good. Everybody knows the people," Shoeheel Grill regular David Stancil said. "People come in just to hear Donnie tell stories. He can really tell a tale."

Creech's relatives said that he and his son were too shaken up to talk publicly about the ordeal and that the store will likely stay closed until Monday.

The well-wishers said they are thankful that Creech will live to tell this story.

"He defended his store, his property, but most of all, his family," Stancil said. "That's what anyone should do."