LA GRANGE, N.C. (WNCT) — The Lenoir County Sheriff’s Office has identified one suspect and two victims who were shot and killed in La Grange Sunday morning in what deputies described as a botched robbery.
Detectives said a group of people were playing cards at a building on Queen Street when the suspects came in and demanded money.
The Sheriff’s Office said they are still working to figure out whether the shooting happened after a struggle or if the suspects came in shooting.
One of three people who was killed, Jerrell Marquez Pridgen of Goldsboro, has been identified as one of the suspects in the robbery, deputies said.
The Sheriff’s Office said he was armed with a gun, had something covering his face and demanded money from the victims.
Detectives said there are other suspects involved who were there with Pridgen, and they are working to identify and find them.
The other two who killed, John Wesley Johnson Jr. of South Carolina and Roderick Wayne Gillette of LaGrange, were victims, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Johnson Jr. was visiting family and was in control of the property where the robbery happened, deputies said. He was shot during the robbery and pronounced dead at the scene.
The Sheriff’s Office is not releasing the identity of the fourth person who was shot because he is still recovering from his injuries and is subject to the ongoing investigation.
For neighbor Mary Dawson, raking the leaves in her yard will never be the same.
“I was awakened by the shots, and I got up, and I saw the lights,” said Dawson.
Dawson knew Gillette.
“To me, he was a nice person,” said Dawson. “Like I said, him and my husband worked together for a long time, and he was like a family friend.”
Others in the community sense a shift in their quiet neighborhood.
“There are going to be people and the family that are going to question what’s happening,” said Frederick Graham, a community member.
Graham said it’s left a scar on his community.
“It is very quiet and I can say this; there is not ever going to be a day they are not going to remember what is happening,” Graham said.
Dawson is one of those people.
“I really stay in now,” said Dawson. “I know I won’t be coming out.”
Three people are dead and one was airlifted to Vidant in Greenville after an overnight shooting in La Grange.
According to the Lenoir County Sheriff’s Office, deputies responded around 1:15 a.m. Sunday morning to 308 W. Queen Street.
They found the four shooting victims in an outbuilding on the property. The fourth victim is reportedly now in stable condition.
Detectives were on scene Sunday morning gathering evidence.
Neighbors said it is typically a quiet neighborhood.
“Everybody knows everyone, and it’s a nice place,” Keith Bizzell said.
“La Grange is a small community, and we don’t see stuff like this, so it’s just devastating to us that this happened to us, especially to my brother-in-law,” Garry Jones added.
Jones said his brother-in-law was one of the victims.
“Got a call at my house saying that he has been shot and I came all the way here to my mother-in-laws house,” Jones said.
Jones said his brother-in-law grew up in La Grange.
“Grew up with us, um, went off to service, went to the army, just a good person to the family and the community,” Jones said.
The retired Army veteran was currently living in South Carolina.
He was staying at his mother’s house on West Queen Street this weekend to attend a funeral Sunday afternoon at the church across the street from the house.
The victims were hanging out in the white outbuilding next to the house when shots rang out.
“He was one of my best friends, best brother in law I could have, just like a brother to me,” Jones said.
Bizzell says he also knew the victims.
“There’s not much to say, they were good people, they were my friends and it was one of my best friends,” Bizzell said.
Bizzell and Jones said there friend was a huge Redskins fan, a way in which he will always be remembered.
“This game, next game, forever, yes,” Bizzell said.
“Pray for the family,” Garry Jones said. “He was a great person and that’s how he will be remembered.”
The two men did not want to give the name of their friend until the Lenoir County Sheriff’s Office officially releases the names of all victims.
The investigation is on-going and no suspect information is available.
Officials said they are not sure what led up to the incident and are encouraging anyone with information to contact authorities.
The sheriff’s office said there was another shooting in 2015 int he same area, but for the most part, it is a safe part of town.
It happened near E.B. Frink Middle School and across the street from St.. James Church of Christ.
Sheriff Ronnie Ingram said something like this has a huge impact on the tight-knit community.
“Well you know, it’s a terrible thing,” Ingram said. “You can see it’s only about a block away from the church, um, you know, you got older people here, so this is not something where you look at and think this is a younger crowd and expect something like this.”
This is a developing story.
Stay with 9 On Your Side as we receive updated information.