A Greensboro resident has been arrested in connection with a shooting that left a man dead and four other people wounded at a party near Pinebluff.
The Moore County Sheriff’s Office announced that Malik Anthony Williams, 25, was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder. The charge stems from a shooting reported early Saturday at a mobile home at the end of Primrose Path, a secluded, one-way road in the Addor community.
A large gathering was underway at the property when Keith Wright Jr., a 29-year-old veteran of the U.S. Army, was fatally shot. Wright, who lived in Fayetteville and had four children, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Two other people were found at the property with life-threatening injuries, including Wright’s 50-year-old mother Holly Smith. She is a resident of nearby Aberdeen, the sheriff’s office said.
Desmond Jones, 45, of Southern Pines, also suffered serious injuries. He and Smith were taken by ambulance to a baseball field in Pinebluff, where they were placed on a helicopter and flown to a Chapel Hill trauma center for treatment.
They were both in “stable condition” as of Sunday morning, the sheriff’s office said.
Calyndell Miller, 24, and Tony Williams, 33, were shot as well, but their injuries were less severe. They were driven to FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital in Pinehurst for treatment.
Richard Maness, chief deputy of the Moore County Sheriff’s Office, told The Pilot that Miller, a Raeford resident, and Williams, who lives in Southern Pines, were questioned at the hospital by investigators. Both men have since been released.
Wright’s death is the first homicide reported by police in Moore County in nearly a year.
The previous slaying occurred on Aug. 19 in West End, where Damon Saqwan Harris, 30, was fatally shot in his home on Pine Hill Road. Arrington Le'Trelle Fairley of Southern Pines was later charged with murder in that killing.
Fairley was also charged with several other offenses in connection with a separate shooting, reported a few days earlier, that left an 8-year-old with injuries that were not life-threatening.
Last summer also saw a shooting that claimed the lives of a prominent elderly couple in Aberdeen. D.P. Black, a 91-year-old who for decades ran Black’s Paving and Construction, and his wife Mary Lou Black, 86, were shot and killed on July 9, 2021, at their home on Roseland Road.
Tony Chad Patterson, a 42-year-old from Aberdeen who once worked for D.P. Black, and Tim Cooper, a 45-year-old from Carthage, were later charged with two counts each of murder in connection with the killings.
Malik Williams is being held at the Moore County Detention Center without bond. He is due in Moore County District Court on Aug. 17, according to the jail’s website.
Williams has been convicted of a violent crime in the past. The N.C. Department of Public Safety’s website shows he was sentenced to 36 months of probation in 2020 for assaulting someone with a deadly weapon in Hoke County.
No additional suspects have been publicly named in connection with Saturday’s shooting, and details of what exactly transpired in the moments leading up to the deadly incident remained scant as of Tuesday evening. In an earlier interview, Maness told The Pilot that sheriff’s deputies were having difficulty getting witnesses to come forward with information.
“We don’t really know at this point what caused the shooting to erupt,” he said on Saturday. “When you have something like this, it just takes hours to process the scene and interview people. Frankly, nobody’s really willing to talk so far.”
The investigation is ongoing, and the sheriff’s office said it is “still working to identify additional witnesses who were present at the gathering at the time of the shooting.”
Multiple law enforcement agencies from across Moore County responded to assist the sheriff’s office at the crime scene, but one agency was noticeably absent.
The Pinebluff Police Department, located only 1.8 miles from Primrose Path, did not have the available manpower to aid with the investigation. Guy McGraw, a town commissioner, said the shooting underscores the need for additional police in Pinebluff, which does not currently have enough officers to provide around-the-clock protection for residents.
While the site of the shooting is within the extraterritorial jurisdiction of Pinebluff, it is not in town limits. Still, the town’s police and fire departments are sometimes enmeshed with public safety issues in Addor because of the community’s close proximity to Pinebluff.
Such was the case on Saturday, when members of the Pinebluff Fire and Rescue Department set up a landing zone at the baseball diamond for the two shooting victims taken by helicopter to Chapel Hill.
“My firefighters called me that morning saying, ‘Dude, we’re at the landing zone and we have no police protection,’” said McGraw, the commissioner over the town’s fire department. “They’re worried that somebody’s going to come back. They have two victims sitting there that they’re responsible for protecting, and they don’t want to become victims themselves.”
The situation is expected to improve following the Pinebluff Board of Commissioners’ decision — made two days before the shooting — to hire three additional officers. The town plans to offer $2,000 sign-on bonuses and other benefits to help attract qualified candidates.
In an interview with The Pilot on Thursday, Mayor Ronald McDonald noted that Pinebluff is a small town with a relatively low crime rate. At the same time, he said, “We still want police officers to be able to protect who we have here.”
“You’ve got some people that may be in some of the larger cities like Fayetteville and Spring Lake where there’s just always something going on,” McDonald said. “We’re hoping that we can entice them to come here to spend the last four or five years of their career in a place with a slowed-down pace.”
He added: “The biggest thing right now is getting those slots filled.”
Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call the Moore County's Sheriff's Office at 910-947-2931. Information can also be provided anonymously by calling the agency’s crime tip hotline at 910-947-4444.