Veterans Day shooter charged

Whitfield held on $20,000 bond

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

Previous coverage
* Nov. 12: Investigation into Veterans Day shooting continues
* Nov. 11: Man dies from shooting
* Nov. 11: Shooter released from custody
* Mr. Smith’s obituary

The Rockingham Police Department announced Friday afternoon that charges have been filed against the shooter in the domestic incident that occurred on Veterans Day at a Rockingham home.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Eric Louis Whitfield, in handcuffs, is escorted by Rockingham Police Department officers less than 10 minutes after a report of a shooting on Nov. 11 at a Rockingham home. The victim, Mack Dewey Smith, died later that afternoon.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Eric Louis Whitfield, in handcuffs, is escorted by Rockingham Police Department officers less than 10 minutes after a report of a shooting on Nov. 11 at a Rockingham home. The victim, Mack Dewey Smith, died later that afternoon.

Eric Lewis Whitfield, 41, of Rockingham, was charged with voluntary manslaughter in the death of Mack Dewey Smith III. Both Whitfield and Smith, 53, lived in the home with Smith’s sister, who also was Whitfield’s partner, and Smith’s mother.

It’s not immediately known whether or not Whitfield has an attorney.  If convicted of the Class D felony, Whitfield faces 38 months to 13 years and four months in prison.

According to North Carolina Generate Statutes 14-18, 14-51.2, 14-51.3 and 14-51.4, voluntary manslaughter is a charge “designed for use in those cases in which the most serious homicide charged is voluntary manslaughter. It should be used only in cases where there is evidence that the defendant killed intentionally, but did so in the heat of passion or in ‘imperfect’ self-defense.”

The shooting took place at a home in the 1600 block of Pecan Street after a heated argument about dogs, authorities said. Smith had allegedly brandished a knife while on the back porch. Whitfield allegedly responded with a shot from a .22-caliber rifle.

Whitfield was taken to the Richmond County Magistrate’s Office and held on $20,000 bond.

The shooting

Officers with the Rockingham Police Department, personnel with FirstHealth EMS and volunteers with Richmond County Rescue Squad responded at 12:36 p.m. on Nov. 11 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, in handcuffs heading towards the back seat of a patrol car. Whitfield was released later that evening. It took the Richmond County District Attorney’s Office another 24 days to put together a case against Whitfield, who has claimed self defense.

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.

Filed in: Featured News, Latest Headlines, News, Public safety

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