SANFORD — Sanford-area 17-year-old Timothy Dequan Thompson was officially charged with first-degree murder Sunday afternoon, according to a Sanford Police Department arrest report.
He is accused in the death weeks earlier of Stacey Morrison, a 31-year-old father of three from Sanford. Police have not detailed the suspected circumstances of the Dec. 8 fatal shooting, which was one of three in a week there and five since Nov. 22.
Morrison’s uncle, Ervin Fox, believes it was an act of random violence. Fox is familiar with the suspect’s family, but he says he believes that Morrison, who grew up in the city of 30,000, only had met his suspected killer in passing.
“They probably had seen one another in the community,” Fox said. “Maybe I just want to think this, but I don’t think (the suspect) really knew what he was doing. I think he just was doing something without being knowledgeable about the after-effect.”
Morrison was shot Dec. 8 before 3:30 a.m. in a residential neighborhood on Goldsboro Avenue, The Sanford Herald reported. Police told the family there were about 40 witnesses, but the family is unaware of further details, according to Fox. Police have not disclosed further information to media outlets about the death.
“We’re just glad that someone has been charged” in Morrison’s killing, Fox said, but “it won’t bring him back.”
Thompson, whose address is listed as both 205 Jamestown Drive in Sanford and 1217 Hoover Ave. in High Point, already was jailed when the charges were issued. He was arrested Dec. 17 on a parole violation and was being held at the High Point Detention Center without bond, according to jail records. He had previously been in prison until Sept. 6, according to state records.
He also was charged Sunday with possession of a handgun by a minor and common-law obstruction of justice.
Thompson was found guilty last January of misdemeanor possession of a weapon on campus, two felony counts of common law robbery, and two felony counts of conspiracy to commit common-law robbery, for which he served a little less than eight months in prison.
He remained at the High Point Detention Center Monday afternoon. His family couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
Sanford has seen a spate of violence this winter.
Phillip Howard Fortune, a 20-year-old from Sanford, was charged Dec. 25 in a fatal Christmas Eve shooting, according to county records. Tony Lamont Martin II, 22, of Sanford, was charged Dec. 12 with assault with a handgun with intent to kill; the crime happened on the same block where Stacey Morrison was fatally shot, according to county records.
Four miles away, Travis Richardson, 30, was fatally shot on the same day as Morrison. Two weeks earlier, Anthony Wayne Giles, 45, was shot dead in his home, while Thomas “Shaq” Radar, 20, was killed three days later, The Sanford Herald reported.
“It seems like this was just too many at the same time, back to back,” Fox said.
It’s unclear whether the recent violence points to a trend or reflects a common problem. Many of the cases remain open, their full stories not yet known to the public.
It’s true, though, that the series of killings smears the general improvements in Sanford’s crime rate shown by state statistics. The city’s rate of violent crime has dropped by 62 percent in the past 10 years. Sanford’s rate has stayed below the state average since 2006; its murder rate, however, has outpaced the state’s, doubling the average in 2011 and 2012.
Stacey Morrison’s family, meanwhile, has no explanation for why a 17-year-old just out of prison would shoot a grown truck driver dead.
“He was a good young man. He was a truck driver for well over five years, and he was a loving man, you know, just a down-to-earth gentleman,” Fox said. “ ... Well, we just have to move on. He’s resting now. There’s nothing we can do.”
Kenney: 919-829-4870; Twitter: @KenneyNC