Sumter man killed in N.C. triple homicide

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A Sumter man was shot to death during a triple homicide in North Carolina on Sunday after a card game allegedly turned into a botched robbery.

John Wesley Johnson Jr. was reportedly visiting family when the incident occurred, according to a news release from Lenoir County Sheriff's Office - the investigating agency. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to the sheriff's office, patrol deputies heard shots being fired just before the 911 calls were made about 1:15 a.m. on Nov. 12.

Based on their investigation, detectives have deduced that a group of people gathered at an outbuilding at 308 W. Queen St. in LaGrange to play cards when an undisclosed number of suspects entered the building and demanded money. The suspects were armed, according to the release.

The other two fatalities were Roderick Wayne Gillette of LaGrange and Jerrell Marquez Pridgen of Goldsboro, North Carolina, who has been deemed a suspect in the robbery.

A fourth person was injured during the incident but has not been identified.

"Our prayers continue to go out to the victims' families for their loss and the LaGrange community. This area in LaGrange is not known for violence or this type of crime," Lenoir County Sheriff Ronnie Ingram said.

Ingram said Pridgen was shot but that, so far, evidence does not indicate any of the victims were armed.

The agency is working to find out if there was a struggle or if the suspects began firing their weapons immediately after entering the building, he said.

"We do know for sure that Pridgen was one of the suspects at the scene along with some others, and their intention was robbing someone," Ingram said.

Pridgen had his face covered and allegedly demanded money from the victims, he said.

Ingram said deputies are also working to identify the other shooting suspects.

Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call Lenoir County Sheriff's Office at (252) 559-6118, contact Lenoir County Crime Stoppers at (252) 523-4444 or email a tip to the sheriff's office through its website at www.lenoircountysheriff.com.