Ex-ECU player killed in revenge for loss of NC-bound drugs, Raleigh police say

Anthony Domonique Lennon
Anthony Domonique Lennon ECU

Former ECU football player Anthony Domonique Lennon was killed outside a Raleigh restaurant last June because a drug courier he had hired to travel from the West Coast to North Carolina lost the drugs in a Chicago arrest, Raleigh police detectives said in 28 newly disclosed search warrants.

The warrants also show that police believe a man who they say helped finance the drug deal set up Lennon, 33, for the hit outside the Bahama Breeze on Wake Forest Road on the night of June 23.

Five people have been charged in Lennon’s killing, and police are looking for a sixth.

Wantavius Burney Jackson CCBI

One of the search warrants asked permission to take a DNA sample from Wantavius Burney Jackson of Kinston so a laboratory could compare it with DNA found on shell casings found in the packing lot. Jackson was charged in October with conspiring to murder Lennon.

The only person charged with murder is Ashanti Bennett, who police said helped finance the drug deal along with another man known only by a nickname.

Bennett owns a tattoo parlor at 240 Greenville Blvd. in Greenville.

Ashanti Rahdee Bennett CCBI

The theory laid out in search warrant applications by Detective J.L. Zellmer has Bennett and Lennon going into the Bahama Breeze parking lot together and standing by Lennon’s black Range Rover when “multiple suspects” came up to the pair and shot Lennon several times.

Zellmer told Superior Court Judge W. Donald Stephens, who granted some of the search warrants in August, that cell-tower data showed phones owned by Bennett, Jackson, Clifton Jason Spellman III, 25, of Greenville and the man being sought, Jamar Allen, were all in the area of the tattoo parlor a few hours before Lennon was killed.

The data also showed that the four phones moved to Raleigh and were connecting with a cell tower near the Bahama Breeze at the time of the homicide.

Jackson’s, Spellman’s and Allen’s phones then moved back to Greenville, police wrote. Bennett stayed at the restaurant and was interviewed by police.

Spellman was charged with conspiracy at the same time as Jackson, a few days after search warrants were granted.

Sources who knew Lennon told police that he had hired a woman to carry the drugs from Seattle, Wash., to North Carolina.

Police did not disclose in the warrants what drug or drugs were involved in the deal or how the woman was traveling when she was stopped in Chicago.

Authorities in Chicago backed up the story about the arrest, Zellmer wrote.

The search warrants returned to the court clerk’s office Tuesday were for nine telephones accounts, eight cars, five social media accounts, a computer, a security camera and a residence in Charlotte, one in Raleigh and Bennett’s tattoo parlor.

Several guns, ammunition and a security system were listed among the physical items police seized during the searches.

June 23, 2017

Lennon was a defensive back for the ECU Pirates from 2011 to 2015.

He had moved to the Raleigh area from Suffolk, Va., where his family lives and where he was buried.

Lennon, known as Domo to his teammates, earned three letters while playing for the Pirates.

While there were many people in the parking lot behind Bahama Breeze, Lennon was the clear target of 10 or more gunshots when he was outside the restaurant the night of June 23, 2017.

No one else was injured that night, police said, but Lennon was pronounced dead in the parking lot.

A 911 call police released days after Lennon’s death described men fighting between two cars in the parking lot, then shots fired and Lennon lying between a black Range Rover and another vehicle, with what looked like holes in his arm and blood around him.

“I don’t know where he’s hit ... He’s not moving at all,” the caller said. “Oh, poor baby.”

A GoFundMe was set up to raise money to start a college fund for Lennon’s son, Landon. Lennon’s high school team – the 2009 Nansemond-Suffolk Academy varsity football team – started the campaign.

Ron Gallagher: 919-829-4572, @RPGKT