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County sees 12 homicides in 2021

Posted on January 10, 2022

Updated on January 16, 2022

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Police and sheriff’s deputies respond to an Aug. 31 double homicide in the 3500 block of London Church Road outside Wilson.

Drew C. Wilson | Times file photo

Police and sheriff’s deputies respond to an Aug. 31 double homicide in the 3500 block of London Church Road outside Wilson.

The Evolution Music Hall on U.S. 301 outside Wilson is the site of Wilson County’s 12th homicide of 2021.

Drew C. Wilson | Times file photo

The Evolution Music Hall on U.S. 301 outside Wilson is the site of Wilson County’s 12th homicide of 2021.

Police and sheriff’s deputies respond to an Aug. 31 double homicide in the 3500 block of London Church Road outside Wilson.

Drew C. Wilson | Times file photo

Police and sheriff’s deputies respond to an Aug. 31 double homicide in the 3500 block of London Church Road outside Wilson.

The Evolution Music Hall on U.S. 301 outside Wilson is the site of Wilson County’s 12th homicide of 2021.

Drew C. Wilson | Times file photo

The Evolution Music Hall on U.S. 301 outside Wilson is the site of Wilson County’s 12th homicide of 2021.

The Evolution Music Hall on U.S. 301 outside Wilson is the site of Wilson County’s 12th homicide of 2021.
Police and sheriff’s deputies respond to an Aug. 31 double homicide in the 3500 block of London Church Road outside Wilson.

dwilson@wilsontimes.com | 252-265-7818

The city of Wilson and Wilson County marked a grim milestone in 2021 with 12 homicides, nearly double the 2020 total and six times the 2019 total.

Wilson saw eight homicides in the city limits. Seven cases have resulted in murder charges, with no suspects identified in one killing.

“One homicide is too many,” said Wilson Police Chief Scott Biddle. “We take violent crime in the city of Wilson very serious and expend most of our resources addressing violent crime.” 

Wilson County lost four people to homicide, including a double murder. Suspects were arrested in three cases, while no one has been charged in a Dec. 26 shooting that claimed expectant mother Precious Dyer’s life.

Wilson County Sheriff Calvin Woodard said three of the county’s four murders were linked to domestic violence.

“These cases are where the parties knew one another and were involved to the point that the suspect used an object to take away the victim’s life,” Woodard said. “Death should never become a means to a disagreement.”

2021 HOMICIDES

Jan. 31: A teenager was charged with first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of 30-year-old Antonio Trevon Pitts of Rocky Mount. Pitts was shot in the 7500 block of Shallingtons Mill Road outside Macclesfield. Investigators said a domestic dispute led to the shooting.

Feb. 4: Dyqwhan A. Bowens, 30, of Wilson, died after being stabbed in the outdoor seating area at O’Cool’s, a bar and restaurant in the Shoppes at Brentwood. Police arrested 25-year-old Wilson resident Zacharus A. Sessoms and charged him with an open count of murder in the fatal stabbing. Michael O. Brooks, 26, of Wilson, was charged with acting as an accessory after the fact of murder. 

April 18: Nicholas J. Ellis, 25, of Wilson, was found dead at Pender Street Park after being shot. Police charged David L. Alston, 42, of Wilson, with first-degree murder in Ellis’ death.

May 3: Trinity Williams, 19, of Wilson, was stabbed in the parking lot adjacent to the Westview Lanes bowling alley. Police charged 18-year-old Tajahya Danyale Applewhite of Wilson with an open count of murder in Williams’ death. 

July 4: Brandon J. Bowens, 33, of Wilson, died after being shot in the 1700 block of Augusta Circle. Police are investigating the homicide.

July 29: Jacqueline Hernandez Vargas, 16, was fatally shot in the 200 block of Canal Street. Police say 38-year-old Jose Antonio Lopez shot Vargas, then turned the gun on himself. Lopez took his own life in the apparent murder-suicide.

Aug. 31: Four people were shot in a violent attack on the 3500 block of London Church Road outside Wilson. Raekwon Tyleek Williams, 21, of Wilson, was shot dead at the scene. His mother, 44-year-old Latasha Tennill Tomlin, was found shot to death in Edgecombe County in a black Buick. Lakiyah Williams, 18, was shot in the back but recovered. Fredria Williams, 18, was also shot at the scene.

Deputies arrested 40-year-old Adrian Tynrell Horne of Wilson. He was charged with two counts of first- degree murder, four counts of discharging a weapon into an occupied vehicle causing serious injury and one count each of discharging a weapon into an occupied vehicle, first-degree kidnapping, larceny of a motor vehicle and trafficking cocaine.

The sheriff’s office said Horne and Tomlin had been dating and shared a home on London Church Road. The two got into an argument at the home when the shooting started.

Sept. 19: Raekwon Shonte Rodgers, 24, of Wilson, was shot in the 700 block of Lane Street. Police found Rodgers in a car in the Family Dollar parking lot at 205 Hines St.

Police said Christopher Dale Pender Jr., 28, of Wilson, shot Rodgers and also shot Kiara Janay Faison, 26. A 3-year-old child also was shot. Rodgers died at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville.

Pender was charged with first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder along with charges of discharging a weapon into an occupied vehicle and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury.

Oct. 15: Police say 52-year-old Steven Thor Cameron of Wilson admitted to stabbing 38-year-old Wilson resident Lavonda M. Lucas at the intersection of Dewey and Sauls streets. Lucas later died at Vidant Medical Center. Cameron was charged with an open count of murder.

Dec. 5: Gonzalo Garcia, 40, of Wilson, was found dead in the 1000 block of Mercer Street. Police arrested 28-year-old Marco Antonio Jaimes of Wilson on a murder charge. Maria De Los Angeles Armenta-Duran, 48, of Wilson, is charged with acting as an accessory after the fact to murder and felony obstruction of justice in Garcia’s death.

Dec. 26: Precious Vernetta Dyer, 29, of Greenville, was shot and killed at the Evolution Music Hall on U.S. 301 South between Wilson and Lucama. Dyer, pregnant and engaged to be married on Jan. 7, was with her fiancé, Timothy Johnson, when gunfire erupted during a Christmas party at the venue. The shooting is still under investigation.

‘ANGER, GRUDGES AND HATE’

Woodard urges witnesses with information on any homicide to tell investigators what they know.

“It is hurtful knowing that families are grieving and wanting justice while there are witnesses who know and have knowledge of the people committing these shootings, but the witness decides to remain quiet,” Woodard said. “It is just not fair to this community and the families. What if it was their family member? They would want someone to come forward.”

Woodard pointed to turf disputes between “hybrid gangs” as a cause of conflict.

“Veterans, community advocates and others have died and bled to make it so that they are making it in life, and they (gang members) are putting unnecessary blood back on the street,” the sheriff said.

He said the “turf” belongs to all Wilson County residents, not “groups of individuals who think drugs, murder and terrorizing is a job.”

Woodard said there once was a day when “you could have a disagreement at a basketball court, throw some hands and play on the same team the next day.”

“Today it is anger, grudges and hate that fuel the smallest of arguments,” he said. “Some may just need to get closer to God or whatever higher being they believe in.”

Every day, the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office “will continue to implement strategies to prevent the precursors of violence,” Woodard said.

Biddle pointed to the Wilson Police Athletic League as a strategy to build connections between law enforcement and Wilson’s youth.

“This is why our PAL program is so important and the relationships we build with the youth of Wilson to create a positive influence on them,” he said.

The sheriff said help is available for people experiencing conflict.

“There are resources in the community to assist women and men from being in an abusive relationship, anger management, drug prevention, etc., but the person is going to have to ‘want’ to do this so that we all can assist them,” Woodard said. “Domestic violence and family violence is real and can be dangerous to the victim as well as their friends and loved ones.”

Woodard said residents who witnessed these crimes or have information about them have a responsibility to come forward and speak with investigators.

“My prayer is that Wilson County will say enough is enough and start sending video, information and names so that those who want to hurt others will be brought to justice,” Woodard said. “Let’s stop talking about it and be about it. See something, say something — help us protect Wilson County.”

Biddle said the police department will work closely with community partners to deter and solve violent crimes.

Police ask anyone with information to call the Wilson Police Department at 252-399-2323 or Crime Stoppers at 252-243-2255.

Anyone with information on the county cases can call the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office at 252-237-2118. To report information anonymously, send a tip through the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office app, which is available as a free download in the Apple and Android app stores.

Wilson County homicides

2009: 1

2010: 4

2011: 7

2012: 5

2013: 6

2014: 4

2015: 5

2016: 7

2017: 8

2018: 5

2019: 2

2020: 7

2021: 12

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