One person has been arrested following an early morning home invasion in the southern part of Sampson County, this one with a twist — the homeowner fired shots and the suspect fled without stealing anything or harming anyone in the residence.
Sampson County Sheriff’s Capt. Eric Pope confirmed that officers have taken Martin Moreless-Perez, 24, into custody and have charged him with the 8 a.m. home invasion in the 1400 block of East Mt. Gilead Church Road.
Through investigation, Pope noted, it is believed Moreless-Perez has broken into the same residence on two other occassions, Oct. 2 and Nov. 14. The suspect has been placed in the Detention Center under a $60,000 bond, charged with two counts breaking and entering; one count felony larceny; and one count larceny of a firearm.
This case, he stressed, is not related to a series of four home invasions that took place over the weekend, all involving seasonal farm workers, most from Hispanic descent.
Although Tuesday’s incident also involved individuals of Hispanic descent, Pope said investigators did not believe it was in any way tied to other recent crimes. “This, we believe, was an isolated incident,” the captain stressed.
In the latest incident, a lone suspect broke into the Mt. Gilead Church Road home, but was apparently surprised by the homeowner.
“The homeowner thought the suspect was armed,” Pope said. Shots were fired, the captain acknowledged, noting that these shots came from the homeowner, and the suspect fled the house without taking anything.
“He fled the scene in a grey Ford Taurus. A short time later, the suspect vehicle was located in Turkey and the suspect was taken into custody.”
Sampson County Sheriff Jimmy Thornton said this was the fifth or sixth time the residence had been broken into, stressing the heightened problems with break-ins, burglaries, robberies and home invasions.
“We live in dangerous times,” Thornton reiterated, tagging onto a theme he used during a Monday press conference about a rash of home invasions over the weekend.
“Economic factors play into this; drugs play into this; and now the holiday season is upon us and that certainly plays into it too. It’s just a reminder that everyone needs to be vigilant, watch their surroundings and watch our for their neighbors, being those nosy neighbors I often talk about.”
The fact that the homeowner fired a weapon, the sheriff said, should send its own kind of message to those “elements in the community” who look to do others harm.
“Look, there are elements out there who want to take what you have, and they will find a means to do so. It’s sad but true,” the sheriff stressed. “Being vigilant is a way of protecting yourself against those elements,” he added.