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SLAYING SHAKES RESIDENTS

SLAYING SHAKES RESIDENTS

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The Tucker Street playground drew a sparse crowd Monday afternoon.

Except for a few young girls on seesaws, no one ventured to swing or play basketball. No one parked their stereo-packed cars to crank rap music or drink beer.And no one stepped near the palm-size blood stain beside the white-lettered graffiti phrases ``Da Butt' and ``The Indian Rocker.'

The blood stain was there from Friday night. Shortly after 7 p.m. a 35-year-old Ramseur man was fatally shot in the middle of Tucker Street beside the east Asheboro playground near single-family homes, a day-care center and an abandoned elementary school.

Asheboro police are looking for a 21-year-old man, Lamont McQueen of 1712 Old Salisbury Road, in connection with the slaying of Patterson Lineberry Jr.

``We've had children playing music and cutting up, but we haven't had a tragedy and this is the worst,' said Thelma Birkhead, a 68-year-old Tucker Street resident who lives across from the park. ``It's shocking to think someone would be carrying that kind of gun.'

McQueen got into an argument with Lineberry and allegedly drew a 9 mm handgun from a nearby car and shot Lineberry in the chest, according to police.

Bystanders close by flagged down the driver of a pickup truck who carried Lineberry to Randolph Hospital where he died three hours later, according to residents and police.

Police say they have yet to find out if the shooting was drug-related. But east Asheboro residents said they believe it was a soured drug deal.

Crack cocaine dealers for several years have almost taken over this neighborhood - known as ``The Hill' - by peddling their wares on street corners and dead-end streets.

The city's vice-narcotics team has flushed out dealers from reputed drug-peddling places on Presnell and Loach streets, and residents said they believe dealers now camp out frequently at the popular Tucker Street playground.

For two years, teenagers and adults have congregated on Tucker Street near the lighted playground from late afternoon to almost midnight. Cars line Tucker Street bumper-to-bumper and have stereo speakers on their roofs blasting music as people play basketball, drink beer and eat takeout food.

Because of the problems, residents are considering asking city officials to clean up the park, patrol it more often or impose an age limit on those who loiter.

``It shouldn't have gotten to this point, that someone had to be killed before something could be done,' said Shirley Greene, a registered nurse at Randolph Hospital who grew up on Tucker Street. ``It's like the phrase, 'Closing the barn door after the horse had gotten out.' '

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