We hope the old saying isn’t true, and bad news doesn’t come in threes. Two Lumberton police officers having been shot 26 days apart is enough for the city and Robeson County.
Investigations by the State Bureau of Investgation into both shootings continue, although we’re not sure what there is to investigate in the assassination of Lumberton police Officer Jeremiah Goodson. There were plenty of witnesses to his murder, the officer having been shot to death in broad daylight beside one of the busiest roads in Robeson County. The accused murderer, Marques Ramon Brown, is in jail, and will face the liklihood of the death penalty when he goes on trial.
Sunday’s shooting of Officer Marcus Norton is a bit trickier. Norton, mercifully, wasn’t seriously injured, and is expected to fully recover from a wound to the back of his left leg — although getting past airport security might be more of a challenge as the bullet is expected to remain where it is.
Tragically, a 22-year-old, Victor Spearman, died that day of what police say was a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Spearman wasn’t a stranger to police, but his crimes were mostly misdemeanors, and his Facebook page suggests that he was simply a troubled young man, aware that he was on a dangerous path but unable to find a life-saving fork in the road.
It all began to unravel when, according to Lumberton Police Chief Mike McNeill, Norton and a second officer stumbled upon Spearman as he was trying to break into an East Second Street business. Things went bad when Spearman tried to flee, and got much worse when he fired the shot that struck Norton.
But the ending could have been different had Spearman simply surrendered to police, and he had a wide window of opportunity to do so when he was holed up in a trash receptacle as a police negotiator tried to convince him to end things peacefully.
It wasn’t long after we began reporting the incident that messages began being posted on robesonian.com that there was more to this story, and that McNeill wasn’t being forthcoming in what he was sharing with the media. But no evidence was offered, just accusations that are easily made through the secrecy that the Internet provides.
It requires a pretty active imagination to believe something sinister is going on as Spearman died in the light of the day, in a neighborhood with residents craning their necks to see what was going on, and with a bunch of police in attendance. That would require quite an elaborate cover-up, and one that would have to be hastily assembled.
But ballistics will tell us ultimately if the bullet taken from Spearman’s head came from his gun or someone else’s, so that question will be answered — and not by investigators at the Lumberton Police Department, but from those with the State Bureau of Investigation.
In the interim, what seems apparent is that since July 17, at least six shots have been fired during confrontations with police and suspected criminals. This could change as the investigation moves forward, but it appears that none of shots — and certainly not the first in either instance — have been fired by a police officer.