'Senseless killing:' Sheriff seeks public's help to track down US 301 shooter

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The Harnett County Sheriff’s Office is investigating what the sheriff described as a “senseless killing” after a Fayetteville man was shot to death while driving down U.S. Highway 301 North in the Mary Stewart Community Wednesday.

Harnett County Sheriff Wayne Coats said his office was notified by residents of “shots fired into a motor vehicle” at 3:36 p.m. along a stretch of the highway between Dunn and Benson.

“When the deputy arrived, he found one black male inside the vehicle,” Coats said. The man, identified as 21-year-old Demetrius Monte Johnson of Fayetteville, was dead from an apparent gunshot wound.

Witnesses saw a car come up behind him that shot into the back window, Coats said. “I’m not sure ... how many shots were fired at this time.”

“We’re pretty confident that this was an isolated incident,” the sheriff said. “It appears that the suspect and victim knew each other. (That) is what we’ve gathered right now.”

Coats said they have a good idea of the identity of the suspect, but with more investigation still ahead, officers are not ready to release that information.

The victim appeared to have veered off to the shoulder of the road when he was shot, Coats said. The vehicle was stopped off of the roadway when officers arrived on scene.

Another woman was in the vehicle when Johnson was shot. Police say the woman was not injured.

“I would like to ask that if anybody in this area at the time around 3:30 or even a little bit before may have witnessed something or saw something, please call our tip line number which is 893-0300 or 893-9111,” Coats said. “We need the public’s help.”

Motorists along U.S. 301 were stopped for nearly an hour outside the crime scene near Hobson Road and AG Equipment Direct, LLC Wednesday afternoon. The travelers were later redirected to an alternate route down Neighbors Road. Several were shocked to hear about the shooting. Coats said his experience in law enforcement made him a little less surprised.

“The people today, they don’t care. They just go out and they’re making poor choices and they put a lot of other folks at risk out here. It’s a senseless killing,” Coats said. “Our hearts and prayers go out to the family of the deceased victim and whatever we can do to help assist them, we’ll do.”

Check back with mydailyrecord.com for more on this developing story.

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