ST. PAULS — The St. Pauls police chief is keeping his cards close to the chest after a 17-year-old Lumberton boy was shot dead on Broad Street on Tuesday in what is being portrayed on social media as a squabble among teens over a cell phone.
“The investigation is ongoing,” Chief R. Thomas Hagens said.
St. Pauls police officers responded to a call at 3:50 p.m. about a shooting at 902 W. Broad St. “between the Burger King and the BP gas station,” Hagens said. Shot and killed was Zachary Meares.
The Robesonian has been told that three young people were questioned, but no arrests have been made.
“There are possible suspects,” Hagens said.
Hagens would not comment on a possible motive for the shooting.
“I can’t elaborate on that,” Hagens said.
Social media, however, was abuzz with stories on how Meares was trying to get his sister’s cell phone back from a boy with whom her relationship had just ended. There was, according to multiple sources, a chase that might have begun in Lumberton and ended where the shooting took place.
The State Bureau of Investigation is assisting in the investigation, according to Patty McQuillan, a communications officer with the agency. The SBI often helps police departments at small municipalities with cases involving a fatality.
Meares attended Lumberton High and played junior varsity baseball there as a freshman and sophomore, but was home-schooled after that. There were multiple photographs of him on his Facebook page playing baseball.
There also were many tributes from people who knew him.
“It’s hard to hear unbearing news, especially when it involves someone you spent many times with. I will always keep the memories we shared together close to my heart. RIP Zach,” Ashley Hickman wrote.
“It’s hard to believe someone I went to school with since elementary school, has passed away. Zachary Meares you will be missed by many. Such a loving and outgoing person, I️ don’t want to believe it. Rest easy Zach,” Morgan Monroe wrote.
Erich Hackney, an investigator with the District Attorney’s Office who often assists small police departments with investigations, said he was not involved in this case, and deferred to the SBI.
Donnie Douglas can be reached at 910-416-5649 or firstname.lastname@example.org.