A North Carolina teacher and an 18-year-old were both killed last week in shootings that the Alamance County sheriff alleges were connected to rival groups. Sheriff Terry Johnson called one of the groups a drug cartel.
Shortly before 1 a.m. on April 8, people near a mobile home park on Wyatt Road in Alamance County called law enforcement about numerous shots being fired, Johnson said in a press conference Wednesday. At one of the mobile homes, officers found two people who had been shot.
Barney Harris was dead after being hit multiple times. The sheriff said Harris was wearing a vest, gloves and had his face covered. Harris lived in Union County and taught Spanish, as well as coaching basketball and track, at Union Academy in Monroe, reports WGHP (Channel 8).
Alonzo Beltran Lara, 18, was still alive, although he had been shot twice in the back of the head, a shooting the sheriff described as execution-style. Lara died later the same day at an area hospital.
The sheriff said the mobile home was a “stash house” for drugs and that someone had ransacked the space. Investigators allege that Harris had gone there and waited for Lara. When the teenager arrived, he was tied up before being shot, according to the sheriff, who also said a kilo of cocaine was found in a bag near the 18-year-old.
At some point during the night, others apparently opened fire from outside the mobile home while someone inside shot back. More than 30 shell casings were found inside and outside the home, Johnson said.
The evidence suggests “it was almost like an old western shootout,” he said.
Sunday, authorities charged a Wadesboro man, Steven Alexander Stewart Jr., 32, with first-degree murder. He is believed to be one of the people shooting into the mobile home where Harris and Lara were found. A search of Stewart’s home turned up firearms and other objects tied to the Alamance crime scene, investigators say.
WGHP reports that Stewart is the brother-in-law of Harris.
The Alamance sheriff, responding to questions about why authorities did not release information sooner, said that investigators needed time to fully understand what occurred in the mobile home park. That was particularly true, he said, given the potential fallout from the criminal enterprises allegedly involved.
“... Somebody is probably going to die as a result of this right here, somewhere else,” he said, adding, “As sheriff, I’m still worried about retaliation.”