Clues found in fire probe
By Sarah Willets firstname.lastname@example.org
PEMBROKE — Officials say they’ve come up with several leads while investigating a fire that a local critic of the Lumbee tribe says was intended to kill him.
Eric Locklear, who is leading an effort to recall Lumbee Tribal Chairman Paul Brooks, was not at his 67 Pine Cone Court home when the fire broke out at about 10 p.m. on Sunday. Locklear believes a Molotov cocktail was thrown into his bedroom where he “would have been sitting watching television.”
Lt. Brian Duckworth, fire investigator for the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office, said there is no evidence a Molotov cocktail was used, although investigators have ruled the case to be arson.
“We did find a piece of granite a little bigger than a baseball in the middle of the bed that we do think was thrown through the window,” Duckworth said.
Stephanie Chavis, fire marshal for Robeson County, said it appears the culprit first tried unsuccessfully to light a fire outside the home.
A dog identified accelerant in some carpet, bedding and soil samples from the scene but Duckworth said investigators don’t yet know what type of accelerant was used. All evidence has been turned over to the Pembroke Police Department, where detectives have been assigned to the case, Duckworth said.
“We’re not going to leave any stones unturned,” Duckworth said.
According to Chavis, neighbors reported hearing a loud boom and seeing someone running through the yard around the time of the fire. A vehicle was also seen parked in an abandoned lot nearby, Duckworth said.
Duckworth said the home was about 20 percent burnt but that it was “probably totalled due to heat, smoke and water damage.”
Locklear has repeatedly spoken out in opposition against the actions of Brooks and his administration. Locklear is spearheading a petition to get a recall election.
Mark Locklear, a spokesman for the tribal administration, said Tuesday that Brooks did not want to comment.
Anyone with information about the fire should call Pembroke police Detective Reese Oxendine at 910-521-4333.
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