Man dies from shooting, suspect in custody

Neighbor: ‘A peaceful, beautiful day turned into a nightmare’

By Kevin Spradlin

* Update: Shooter released, investigation continues

ROCKINGHAM — An otherwise peaceful residential neighborhood was disrupted early Tuesday afternoon when one man shot another at the end of a physical altercation.

Kevin Spradlin | Officer J.C. Neeley, left, and Officer J.A. Gilbert escort a shooting suspect to the back of a Rockingham Police Department patrol car.

Kevin Spradlin |
Officer J.C. Neeley, left, and Officer J.A. Gilbert escort a shooting suspect to the back of a Rockingham Police Department patrol car.

Officers with the Rockingham Police Department, personnel with FirstHealth EMS and volunteers with Richmond County Rescue Squad responded at 12:36 p.m. to a home in the 1600 block of Pecan Street, located off Richmond Road in Rockingham, for a report of a gunshot wound. Upon arrival, officers found the shooting victim on the back porch of a single-story home with a gunshot wound to the chest.

By 12:45 p.m., officers had the shooter, identified by a neighbor as “Eric,” last name unknown, in handcuffs heading towards the back seat of a patrol car.

The home belongs to Mary Ellen Smith, who still resides at that location but suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease and is under the care of hospice, said a 40-year veteran of the neighborhood. Smith’s husband, Mack Dewey Smith Jr., died in August at the age of 81.

“Our kids grew up together,” said the neighbor, who asked not to be identified. “A peaceful, beautiful day turned into a nightmare. I just can’t bear that he had to go to jail. This breaks my heart. I would never have believed this.”

The neighbor said the suspect and his girlfriend had moved into the home to take care of her parents. Later, the shooting victim — the girlfriend’s brother — had moved in. They got along for the most part, but another neighbor indicated there had been problems recently in the relationship.

Kevin Spradlin | Rockingham Police Capt. E.W. Grant tapes off the crime scene at a home on Pecan Street.

Kevin Spradlin |
Rockingham Police Capt. E.W. Grant tapes off the crime scene at a home on Pecan Street.

Those apparent problems turned physical, when the shooting victim had a knife and, according to one neighbor, threatened the shooter.

As of 1:19 p.m., police are still on scene. This report will be updated as new information becomes available.



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  • Alice Kaulfers

    You just wouldn’t think this happens in a small town…times have changed…:(

  • Tony Woodside

    Sounds to me like the guy shot in self defense.

    • Luck

      Heres what happened. Eric came home and immediately started an argument with Dewey. He was screaming at Dewey saying that Dewey’s dog was making the house smell bad. Dewey argued back saying that was not true. Eric continued to scream and yell at Dewey and threatening to fight Dewey. Dewey felt threatened and aggravated by Eric screaming at him and he grabbed a knife to defend himself. The couple continued arguing and ended up on the deck outside. Lisa who is Dewey’s sister was there and was screaming at Eric to leave Dewey alone. Lisa got in between the two and was standing in front of Dewey. Eric leaves the deck and goes back inside the house. He grabs his 22 rifle and goes back outside. Eric points and shoots at Lisa and Dewey who is over 20 feet away and hits Dewey between the chest and shoulder. I really don’t know how Lisa wasn’t the one shot as she was in front of Dewey facing in Eric’s direction.

      Eric’s temper caused him to make a wrong decision. Eric had the opportunity to get in his vehicle which he passed on the way inside, he could have called the police on Dewey, ran away or went back in the house and locked the doors and calmed down. Instead he chose to go back outside and kill Dewey. I think once Dewey was shot and fell to the ground it hit Eric that he had made a mistake. He went over to Dewey and tried to help by holding pressure on the wound and slow down the bleeding. The bullet hit a main artery and there was nothing that could be done. Dewey passed away at the hospital shortly afterwards.

      I know Eric didn’t want Dewey to die. Eric just let hit temper get the best of him and made a terrible decision. This doesn’t change the fact that Eric left the area where the argument was and went inside out of harms way. Then Eric went back to where Dewey was and killed him. It is not self defense when you leave and come back and shoot someone that has a knife that is over 20 feet away from you while another person is holding that person back. Dewey was no longer a threat at this point. I believe that if you are not in immediate danger that you are breaking the law by shooting at two people that are over 20 feet away and killing one of them. I know Eric may not have wanted Dewey to die but he needs to be punished for what he has done.

      This family needs prayers and support at this tragic time.

      • Christie Futrell

        I am shocked and saddened by this. I’m just at a loss for words. RIP Dewey. 🙁

      • Dennis TheKnight Andrews

        IDk, There has to be more to it than a smelly dog.. like past arguments, or more…I hate to think Dewey was killed over a dog..I grew up during high school with Dewey.. Good person.. Cool as all get out..I know all the fam..This was wrong!! Aprox. 20 feet away with a knife. thats no threat.. Eric could have done anything else.. walked away or shut up as Lisa asked..I knew Eric a bit.. Spoke at times but not all the time.. cant say how he was.IDk…just know this isnt right..Everybody seems to forget, while they sending prayers and Sorry For his ( Eric’s) Loss?? really? He pulled the trigger! He made a big mistake..Maybe he is sorry..Maybe he has more problems than known IDk. a temper I hear… Yeah he needs prayer, but Who’s the victim?? I heard some say it was a bad accident.. I dont see it as an accident..I have been praying for Dewey and fam..I will pray that Eric gets help..and for forgiveness..I sure cant see this going over so well for the family and/nor for (some) friends…. as if all this will be ok.. I dont know who U are Luck..dont know who all witnessed this.. But if this is true u posted.. it seems to be accident..I am So Sad and this is so terrible had to happened this way for all of them..This is life changing or should be for all the people involved.

        • Dennis TheKnight Andrews

          Certainly Eric didnt want Him to die..Maybe his temper got the best of him.IDk.. Never should of happened

      • Dennis TheKnight Andrews

        I dont know Luck , how accurate are your words? This is tragic, I can only say at this time … It shouldnt of happened…just dont seem as an accident. Rest in Peace Dewey.. God help all that needs help..

      • CRS

        Here’s what happened… A tragedy has happened to some very good people… Rumors, hearsay and speculation are so unfair… The authorities will deal with this matter and I have no doubt, do the right thing after they have gathered the true facts.

        • Don Batten

          I agree with that brother, People stick there nose in other peoples problems so easy.

      • Diane Masterson

        As a person that is personally involved in this situation…none of your information is close to correct…I just want to say you’re a coward for not putting your name on here…you were wrong for this post this…just hope you’re man enough to post your name…this is the biggest bunch of misinformation I’ve seen in one place..

    • Dennis TheKnight Andrews

      Threatening to Fight Dewey, then a gun shot.. self defense really?

  • Jody Quick

    if the victim pulled knife why did they arrest the shooter. if the police had shot someone holding a knife nothing would have been said.

    • Dennis TheKnight Andrews

      Knife was pulled for protection ,sounds like.. If 20 feet away. Why did Eric go get a gun? Which is more of a threat a gun or a knife..20 feet away?? Who the hell is the victim…Not Eric I would say..

  • hanktuesday

    We pulling for you Eric, hate that it fell out the way it did. I guess people living together can get frustrated, sometimes people snap. Sorry for Diane and Lisa. God bless them.

  • Debra

    Unless we were there with Dewey,Eric,and Lisa,I think that we should not post what we think or guess.In time Lisa will tell us.Please respect these people.With all the love between Eric and Dewey this had to be a mistake.There love is like brothers.Lets please respect them.We cant even know how bad there pain is.Please.thank you..Diane has loss her twin brother,Lisa has lost her brother and Eric has lost his best friend.That is all we really know at this time.thank you.

    • Dennis TheKnight Andrews

      I know all the family, this is devastating to hear. Wrong is all I know..

    • CRS

      Amen Debra… I’m sure we don’t know everything about this… let the authorities deal with this… but if it aint fact, it’s so unfair to post it.

  • Guest

    He walked. Unbelievable.

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