SMITHFIELD — The fusillade of gunfire that hit an apartment here Wednesday night lasted so long that the shots can still be heard in the background as a woman inside the apartment called 911.
“Oh my God, please come,” the woman begged a Johnston County emergency dispatcher in a recording of the 911 call released by the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office. “Someone shot at my house. My sister shot. Please come, please.”
A 23-year-old woman and her 8-year-old son were seriously injured when someone drove up to their one-bedroom apartment on Towbridge Drive and fired at least 18 gunshots at their home.
Police have not yet released the names of the mother and son, but state property records indicate the apartment is the home of Jalissa Wallace. Johnston County school officials have confirmed that her son, Jeremiah Wallace, was wounded in the shooting. Jeremiah is a second-grader at South Smithfield Elementary School.
Investigators say a second child in the apartment, a 6-year-old girl, was not injured.
Police do not think the shooting was a random act, but they have not yet released a possible motive.
As the woman called 911 for help, another woman in the apartment can be heard screaming in the background. The woman sounds as if she is trying to plead with one of the shooters during the storm of gunfire that shatters glass and pierces walls. “Sir? Sir?” the woman in the background said in a quavering voice before a child started crying.
“Please come, please come,” said the woman who called 911, her frightened voice trailing off before she hung up.
Before police arrived two or three men sped away toward North Brightleaf Boulevard in a gray car and a silver Malibu, according to a neighbor who also called 911. The neighbor had been at her mailbox when she heard gunshots and ran back into her apartment. When she looked outside again, she said she saw three men drive away, with the headlights of their cars switched off, according to the 911 recordings.
On Thursday morning, the Smithfield police announced that they were searching for three men who were “persons of interest” in the shootings, along with a regional alert for the cars that drove away after the shootings. Deputies with the Lenoir Sheriff’s Office in Kinston arrested the men by early Thursday afternoon.
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.
Harper has an extensive criminal history, state records show. He has previous convictions for selling marijuana, felony possession of heroin, open container violations, trespassing and a felony drug conviction that landed him a six-month prison sentence in 2006, state records show.
Federal indictments charging Harper with felony possession with the intent to sell and deliver drugs were dismissed in 2010, state records show.
Height has no criminal history in North Carolina, except for a traffic-related offense in 2009, state records show.
Edgar pled guilty in 2005 to carrying a concealed weapon in Wayne County, state records show. He was sentenced to nearly five years in prison, but spent 180 days in jail and the remainder of the sentence on supervised probation.
All three are being held in the Johnston County jail on $2 million bail each.