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Smithfield police say dead woman was girlfriend of man killed in fatal chase, shootout

Police say a woman found dead outside her home Tuesday was the girlfriend of a man who died after exchanging gunfire with state troopers and crashing a stolen truck Monday.

Smithfield police are treating the death of Alanda Mae Abarca, 28, as a homicide after finding her body at 617 S. Fourth St. shortly after 6:30 a.m. Tuesday. She had last been seen alive Monday afternoon, police said.

The discovery came a day after Enrique Lopez of Smithfield, 26, was “struck by a trooper’s gunfire” and died after running off U.S. 70 Business in Johnston County. The state Medical Examiner’s Office is still determining his cause of death, the Highway Patrol said in a news release.

The couple had two children who are now with a grandmother, police said in a news release.

Police have released no other details, such as how Abarca might have been killed, and asked that anyone with information call them at 919-934-2121.

Fatal chase

Monday’s chase began after state troopers responded to a report of a stolen tow truck at about 4:20 p.m., the Highway Patrol has said.

“During the pursuit, Lopez began shooting at pursuing troopers who then returned fire as they neared the city of Clayton,” the Highway Patrol said.

The pursuit ended when Lopez crashed into a tree on the eastbound shoulder of U.S. 70 Business. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Trooper J. J. Kiser, who has been with the Highway Patrol for nine years, has been placed on administrative duty, which is standard procedure when the Highway Patrol investigates a shooting by one of its troopers, according to a news release.

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