Suspects indicted in fatal Cove City convenience store robbery

COVE CITY, N.C. (WNCT) — A grand jury has indicted three people in regards to a robbery and deadly shooting at a Cove City convenience store in August.

Anthony Lamar Johnson, 21, and Ashley Velez, 26, were both indicted on first degree murder charges, while Brittany Leal, 28 was indicted on a charge of accessory after the fact.

All three were also indicted on charged connected to the robbery.

All three have attorneys representing them, and they will be in court March 13.


The Craven County Sheriff’s Office says a third person has been arrested in connection to a deadly shooting at convenience store.

Deputies announced the arrest of  26-year Ashley Velez on August 7th. Velez faces charges for Accessory aft the Fact of a Felony. The 26-year-old was taken to the Craven County Detention Center and given a $100,00 bond.

The Craven County Sheriff’s Office previously arrested two other suspects on August 4th.

Anthony Johnson, 21, has been charged with the murder of Scottie Alan Morton, and Brittany Leal, 28, has been charged with a attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon. Both Johnson and Leal are from Fayetteville, and the Morton is from Cove City.

The Craven County Sheriff’s Office responded to Grady’s Old Country Store at 10805 Hwy 70 West in Cove City around 5:30 p.m. in response to a shooting.

When they arrived, they found Morton suffering from multiple gunshot wounds.

Witnesses told deputies they saw a black man with his face covered enter the store, demand money and shoot Morton several times.

After the shooting, deputies said the suspect fled the store to an awaiting dark red SUV and fled the area.

Morton died on the scene, deputies said.

The Sheriff’s Office said they identified Johnson and Leal as suspects and found them at a resident near the Wintergreen Road area of Cove City.

They arrested Leal at the time, but Johnson fled into the woods, deputies said.

A manhunt ensued, and officers from the Craven County Sheriff’s Office and SRT along with New Bern Police K-9 units, Lenoir County Sheriff’s Office K-9 unit and manpower, North Carolina Highway Patrol, SHP Helicopter, and U.S. Coast Guard Helicopter assisted in the search for Johnson.

He was caught near Dover Road in Craven County at 11:30 a.m. Friday morning.

The investigation has just begun, and the Sheriff’s Office said more arrests and charges are expected.

The mayor of cove city says the shooting is unlike anything he’s seen before.

Cove City Mayor Dred Mitchel said the shooting is unlike anything he has ever seen.

“Nothing like this has ever happened in Cove City,” Mitchel said.

Dozens of neighbors say this grocery store served as a place to unwind and catch up with other residents.

“It’s a huge impact on the community, and it’s going to hurt all of us as a whole,” said Chase Bright, lead pastor at the Cove City Freewill Baptist Church.

He said it comes as a surprise to a city with a lot of love for one another.

“It hits home, literally, really close, you think small town USA, Cove City fits right in with that,” said Bright. “and to have something like that here, it makes you wonder what else is going on”



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