A 4-year-old Sampson County boy was fighting for his life late Saturday afternoon, less than 24 hours after being shot in the head by a man who broke into his family’s Plantation Lane home and then opened fire when he couldn’t get into a bedroom where the youngster and his parents had been sleeping.
The suspect and those reportedly in a waiting car that he escaped the area in remain at large and sheriff’s authorities are urging anyone with information on their whereabouts to come forward.
In fact, Sheriff Jimmy Thornton stressed in a prepared statement that anyone who knew the suspects and didn’t come forward were as involved as those directly responsible for the crime.
“I want to point out that if there is anyone out there who knows who these suspects are and they don’t come forward to assist, they are just as much a part of the problem as the person who pulled the trigger,” Thornton asserted.
The burglary and shooting was one of two home invasions that happened Friday night. Suspects are also being sought in the second incident which happened within a half hour of the first, this one at a Hispanic labor camp located at 2285 Turkey Hwy., just outside of Clinton. No one was injured in the second incident.
Authorities said they were not able to determine yet whether there was a link between the two crimes, but they did note that the victims in both cases were of Hispanic ethnicity.
The first incident happened around 10:30 p.m. Friday night. Officers were dispatched to the Plantation Lane mobile home to investigate what had been called in as a burglary and shooting.
According to reports, the suspect, described only as a tall, black male, broke through the front door of the residence and then tried to force his way into a bedroom. When he couldn’t get inside the room, officers say he opened fire, striking the youngster.
The suspect then fled the scene, the youngster’s father in pursuit. But the suspect was able to make it to a waiting car, jumped inside and left the area.
Family members, reports show, took the 4-year-old to Sampson Regional Medical Center in their personal vehicle. The child was airlifted to a regional medical center.
The names of the child and his family are being withheld pending notification of other family members, Sheriff’s Capt. Eric Pope noted.
The child is currently on life support and listed in critical condition.
Authorities did not comment on whether the Friday night burglary and shooting was in any way related to an election night home invasion that left one dead and two seriously injured.
Information is still being sought in that case, and no arrests have been made.
Thornton pleaded with the public to come forward with information they may have on suspects involved in the shooting of the 4-year-old, as well as the election night shooting on Nov. 6.
“I ask that anyone with information please call our office at 910-592-4141 or our anonymous tip line at 910-564-5261,” the sheriff implored.
He also offered his deepest sympathy to the family in this latest tragedy.
“My thoughts and prayers are with this 4-year-old young man and his family. It’s bad when anyone is the victim of a crime, however it’s even worse when an innocent child suffers. It’s a sad day when a child cannot sleep in their own bed without the fear of being killed.”
The labor camp burglary happened around 10:30 p.m. when three suspects broke into the residence and took a big screen TV.
Three suspects are being sought. Officers said one suspect is described as a black male, approximately 5 foot 4 inches tall with a small body frame and wearing a ready “hoodie” type shirt; the second suspect is described as a black male, approximately 5 foot 4 inches tall with a heavy set body type and wearing a gray “hoodie” style shirt and black pants; and the third suspect is described as a black male, approximately 6 feet tall, wearing a black “hoodie” shirt.
Officers are seeking information on those suspects as well.