Local News

Suspect surrenders in soldier's nightclub shooting death

Posted March 24, 2011 7:12 a.m. EDT
Updated March 25, 2011 5:30 a.m. EDT

— A Fort Bragg soldier working as a bouncer was shot and killed early Thursday by a man he had asked to leave a nightclub, according to the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office.

Witnesses said that Spc. Breon Joseph Smith, 28, asked two men who had become loud and boisterous to leave Congo's Latin Club, at 4350 Cumberland Road, at about 1:45 a.m., said Debbie Tanna, spokeswoman for the sheriff's office.

One of the men threatened Smith, then got a gun from his car and shot Smith, Tanna said. Witnesses said people inside the club performed CPR until paramedics arrived, but they couldn't revive him.

Kenneth Ronald Clark, 28, of 822 Opal Court in Fayetteville, surrendered to police Thursday evening and was charged with murder. He was scheduled to appear in court Friday morning.

Authorities haven't yet identified the second man who was asked to leave the club.

Cumberland County deputies have been called to Congo's Latin Club 16 times this year, including Thursday's shooting, Tanna said. Two of the previous calls involved gunfire, while others included an assault, two burglaries and loud music.

Yet, Calvin Keisler, who lives near the club, said he was shocked to hear of the shooting.

"(Club staff) go around the neighborhood to keep (patrons) from parking in people's yards and stuff like that," Keisler said.

Smith, a New Bern native, was a vehicle mechanic assigned to the 656th Maintenance Battalion at Fort Bragg. He served two tours of duty in Iraq.

Ieshia James, his sister-in-law, said he took the part-time job at the nightclub to support his wife and three daughters, an 8-year-old and 6-year-old twins.

"He was just always quiet. (He was) a good father, a good husband," James said.

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call the sheriff's office at 910-313-1500.