Veterans Day shooter cleared

Grand Jury fails to indict on manslaughter charge

Staff report

Previous coverage
* Dec. 8: Opinion: Let the victims have a voice
Dec. 5: Whitfield charged
* Nov. 12: Investigation continues
* Nov. 11: Shooter released
* Nov. 11: Man dies from gunshot wound

ROCKINGHAM — A 41-year-old Rockingham man no longer faces a manslaughter charge in the Veterans Day shooting that left another man dead.

Members of a Richmond County grand jury failed to indict Eric Whitfield on the charge of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Mack Dewey Smith III due to insufficient evidence.

Eric Whitfield

Eric Whitfield

Whitfield’s single .22-caliber gunshot rocked the Pecan Street neighborhood on Nov. 11, 2014, and struck Smith, 53. Whitfield and Smith both lived in the Pecan Street home. Police records indicate their argument began over a dog in the home that smelled bad.

Smith was transported to FirstHealth Richmond Memorial Hospital by ambulance but was pronounced death within the hour. Whitfield, meanwhile, was taken into police custody less than 15 minutes after the emergency call for help was received by emergency dispatchers.

Whitfield was not arrested on the day of the shooting and was, in fact, released from custody the night of Nov. 11. It took 24 more days for investigators with the Rockingham Police Department to put a case against Whtifield for involuntary manslaughter. The case seemed clear enough at the time — Smith had exited the home by the back porch with a knife. A police report indicates Whitfield followed with the gun.


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  • Raven Gordon

    This is so sad! Dewey was a wonderful person and being the mother of a murdered child this is so crazy. Of course everyone knows in this county a indictment would not be gotten once it went into the secrecy of a Grand Jury. Its about who you know in this county. I feel so bad for the memory of Dewey who made a profound impact on my family when I moved here. Hotheads never change their ways and it may be years but it will happen again I am sure. Not like everyone in this county dont know the past history of anger Eric has displayed in this county for many many years.

  • The Master

    I am not a fan of Richmond County. I didn’t know Dewey and only barely know Eric. I didn’t know he had anger issues.

    • Raven Gordon

      Richmond county seems to do anything to let the legal system not matter to them. It is too manipulated by nepatism and not wanting to progress and do whats right. Its sad because it could be an amazing place. Dewey had a heart of gold and the lessons he shared that made a huge impact on my child, Eric just showed my kids that its ok to pull a gun out in anger and shoot. I will never let this man near my kids again and wont put ourselves in that position to worry about.

      Eric has not been able to go to his girls place of employment for many years I was told by her because of the anger issues he has. Its sad this community found this acceptable and makes him a hero. Any investigator worth a grain of salt could have known that and found lots of stories of his personality. It really is public knowledge. He needs to humble himself.

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