SMITHFIELD — Residents in an apartment complex on the north side of town heard rapid blasts of gunfire, then the sound of two cars speeding away toward North Brightleaf Boulevard on Wednesday evening.
When police and paramedics arrived, they found a 23-year-old woman and her 8-year-old son had both been shot and seriously injured in their one-bedroom apartment.
Early Thursday afternoon, police charged three men in connection with the torrent of gunfire.
Two of them, Cornel Breon Harper, 35, of Kinston and Sameer Muhammod Edgar, 26, of Detroit were each charged with 18 counts of discharging a firearm into an occupied dwelling; six counts of inflicting serious injury with a deadly weapon, and two counts of attempted first-degree murder.
The third man, Mister Premier Height, 22, of Kinston was charged with 24 counts of accessory after the fact of discharging a firearm into an occupied dwelling and two counts of accessory after the fact of attempted murder.
All three are being held in the Johnston County jail on $2 million bail each.
Police do not think the shooting was a random act, said Smithfield police Lt. Keith Powell. Police have not disclosed a possible motive, nor have they said whether the woman and her son were the intended targets. Powell said there were four people in the apartment at the time of the shooting, including another woman and a 6-year-old girl.
Police got a report of gunshots at 38 Towbridge Drive at the Homewood Apartments shortly before 8 p.m. The gunmen had fired from outside the apartment, leaving more than a dozen bullet holes in the windows and outside wall. On Thursday, shattered glass sprinkled the apartment’s living room, and there were scuffs of dried blood on the bedroom floor. At least three bullets had punctured the walls of a neighboring apartment.
The woman and boy were taken to a hospital. Police have declined to release their names nor say where they were being treated, but Powell said their injuries were “serious.”
School officials say the boy was a second-grader at South Smithfield Elementary, where counselors were on hand Thursday to talk to students and parents. Principal Carla Taylor issued a statement that described the boy as a “beloved student and member of our school family.”
“He is a compassionate child, who is kind to others and loves to be the class helper,” Taylor said.
Residents in the neighborhood described the child as a sweet boy who liked to ride his silvery-blue bicycle, which was still in the living room of his mother’s apartment Thursday.
The neighbors said the boy’s mother worked at a fast-food restaurant and a group home.