No decision on charges in Meares case

Staff report

LUMBERTON — District Attorney Johnson Britt says he expects that the State Bureau of Investigation or St. Pauls police chief will make a decision on if and what charges will be brought in the shooting death of a Lumberton teenager earlier this week, but if asked he will make the call.

The Robesonian has been unable to get information from the State Bureau of Investigation regarding the death of Zachary Meares because the agency’s spokeswoman is off until Tuesday, and St. Pauls Police Chief Tommy Hagens has said only that “the investigation is ongoing.” He has confirmed what he called “suspects” in the case, and The Robesonian has learned three teenagers were questioned and released.

“We will take the case if asked,” Britt told The Robesonian this week.

The Robesonian has learned that the three teenagers who were questioned are all 16 years old or younger. North Carolina this year became the last state to raise the age for which people are automatically tried as adults to 18 years old.

Meares was shot and killed shortly before 4 p.m. Tuesday after a chase involving two vehicles that began in Lumberton and ended at 902 W. Broad St. in St. Pauls. Multiple sources have told The Robesonian that Meares had jumped in the back of the bed of a truck the three youths were in and that he was shot three times in the face.

The confrontation came when the former boyfriend of Meares’ sister would not return her cell phone to her.

Meares’ funeral is today. He is survived by both parents, a brother and two sisters.

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.

Staff report