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Suspect charged with shooting deputy & resident out of hospital, given $5 million bond

Robert Strother is accused of shooting a deputy and seriously wounding a Lenoir County man.
This is a new mug shot of Robert Strother.
This is a new mug shot of Robert Strother.(Lenoir County jail)
Published: Nov. 19, 2020 at 10:20 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 23, 2020 at 1:19 PM EST
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LENOIR COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - A gunman who is accused of shooting a Lenoir County deputy and a resident is out of the hospital and now in jail.

Robert Strother was treated and released from the hospital on Sunday after he was wounded in a gunfight with lawmen Saturday night.

Deputies say the 30-year-old wounded Deputy Steven Key Thursday night after the deputy was called to Lang Skinner Road. Key was released from the hospital that night. The next morning, Strother is accused of also shooting Kenny Goff and stealing the man’s pickup truck.

He was caught Saturday night on Banks School Road after a tip from a resident. That location is just outside the perimeter that was set up by lawmen.

His bond was set at $5 million for the following charges:

  • Attempted first-degree murder (2 counts)
  • Assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill and inflict deadly injury
  • Assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill and inflict serious injury
  • Discharging weapon in an occupied building
  • Possession of a firearm by a felon
  • Robbery with a dangerous weapon
  • Felony larceny
  • Felony possession of stolen goods
  • Felony possession of a firearm by a felon
  • Misdemeanor resisting arrest and obstruct/delay

The State Bureau of Investigation is looking into the shooting of Strother.

A judge this morning gave him a public defender during his court appearance and Strother is now in the Lenoir County jail.

SATURDAY UPDATE

The three-day manhunt for a gunman wanted for shooting a Lenoir County Sheriff’s deputy and another man ended Saturday night with a shootout.

According to Lenoir County Public Information Officer Bryan Hanks, Robert Strother, the suspect, has been taken into custody by the Lenoir County Sheriff’s Office.

According to Hanks, deputies responded to Banks School Road. When officials arrived, they say they found Strother on a porch and that he refused to surrender.

We’re told Strother and deputies got into a firefight and that the man was hit several times by gunfire.

The S.B.I. will take over the investigation into the shooting of Strother.

No additional injuries have been reported in the arrest.

Strother, who has multiple felony charges, is accused of shooting Lenoir County Sheriff’s Office Dep. Steven Key Thursday night, and seriously wounding a Lenoir County man and stealing his truck Friday morning.

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The manhunt continues for suspect Robert Lee Strother, who has been on-the-run since Thursday, according to Lenoir County officials.

Lenoir County officials confirmed on Saturday they recovered the 2003 red Dodge Dakota truck Strother is accused of stealing after shooting the owner of the vehicle Friday morning.

Officials said the vehicle was abandoned in the woodline on Friday and in severe undergrowth.

“It was still running and in reverse, but stuck in the undergrowth when it was discovered by officials Friday,” the latest update said.

Officials secured the perimeter around the vehicle and recovered it Saturday. The truck is now in their possession.

County Public Information Officer Bryan Hanks said more officials joined the search for Strother, who believe at this point in time that he is alive and on foot.

There are now 31 agencies helping in the investigation, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; Greene County Sheriff’s Office; New Bern Police Department; Snow Hill Police Department; and the Washington Police Department.

Strother, who has multiple felony charges, is accused of shooting Lenoir County Sheriff’s Office Dep. Steven Key Thursday night, and seriously wounding a Lenoir County man and stealing his truck Friday morning.

Lenoir County Sheriff’s Office asks anyone who has credible information about the whereabouts of Strother to contact 252-559-6118 or 911 to share that information with law enforcement.

The search continues Saturday morning for the suspect who shot a deputy and a resident in...
The search continues Saturday morning for the suspect who shot a deputy and a resident in Lenoir County.(WITN)

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Helicopters from the State Highway Patrol used night vision technology Friday night and other departments around the East have joined in to assist in the search.

Hanks says all of the agencies have maintained and guarded the perimeter all night long.

More agencies will be on-hand to assist Saturday, as Strother is still at-large.

Sheriff Ronnie Ingram reminds the public to be mindful of your surroundings when you are in the area, and report any sightings or suspicious activity.

Manhunt continues for suspect Robert Lee Strother
Manhunt continues for suspect Robert Lee Strother(search)

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Lenoir County Sheriff Ronnie Ingram said, that as daylight has faded tonight, the manhunt continues for Robert Lee Strother.

The search continues inside the perimeter that has been established along the Kennedy Home Road corridor from Snake Road to Lang Skinner Road.

That search is being aided by night vision technology from several agencies, including the State Highway Patrol, Pitt County Sheriff’s Office, Onslow County Sheriff’s Office, New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, Craven County Sheriff’s Office, and the SBI.

Other agencies that have been involved include Craven County Emergency Management, the FBI, Greenville Police Department, Harnett County Emergency Services, Kinston Police Department, Lenoir County Emergency Services, Lenoir County EMS, New Hanover County Emergency Services, North Carolina Department of Insurance, North Lenoir Volunteer Fire Department, Pender County Emergency Management, U.S. Marshals Service, Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, and the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office.

“We are truly appreciative of all these agencies that are helping us find Mr. Strother,” Ingram said.

Ingram says a man shot this morning by Strother in last night’s wounding of a deputy sheriff is in critical condition.

Deputies found the man’s stolen pickup truck, but there was no sign of Strother.

Strother, according to deputies, shot Deputy Steven Key Thursday night as well as a man on Lang Skinner Road around 6:45 a.m. this morning. Deputies say the victim’s truck was taken after he was shot.

A relative tells WITN News that Kenny Goff was shot four times and is undergoing surgery at Vidant Medical Center this afternoon.

Authorities have identified the suspect as Robert Strother.
Authorities have identified the suspect as Robert Strother.(WITN)

Ingram says those who were evacuated overnight should stay away from their homes until Strother is found.

Last night just before 9:00 p.m., Deputy Key went to a domestic call on Lang Skinner Road. The sheriff’s office says when the deputy addressed the man, who was standing in the yard with his back to the road, the suspect turned around with an assault-type rifle and shot at the deputy, hitting Key in the neck.

Key was treated and released from UNC Lenoir Health Care around midnight, according to the sheriff.

Strother has 4 warrants for his arrest related to the standoff:

  • Attempted first-degree murder
  • Assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill and inflict serious injury
  • Discharging weapon in an occupied building
  • Possession of a firearm by a felon

Strother has a lengthy criminal record that goes back a dozen years to when he was just 18-years-old.

State records show the 30-year-old has multiple drug convictions, as well as convictions for possessing stolen goods.

In 2013 he was convicted of assaulting a law enforcement officer, a crime he spent nearly 5 years in state prison. Strother was released from prison back in May and remains on probation for that conviction.

Lenoir County Deputy injured
Lenoir County Deputy injured(WITN)

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A standoff between an armed suspect and sheriff’s deputies is ongoing as of 6:15 a.m.

Authorities have identified the suspect as 30-year old Robert Strother.

Lenoir County Sheriff’s Office has set up a perimeter and believe the suspect is within those boundaries.

Strother has 4 warrants for his arrest related to the standoff:

  • Attempted first-degree murder
  • Assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill and inflict serious injury
  • Discharging weapon in an occupied building
  • Possession of a firearm by a felon

Strother has an extensive criminal record prior to the overnight standoff. Officials say there will be many additional charges.

The SBI has been called in and a Highway Patrol helicopter has been circulating the area all morning, according to WITN’s Austin Pollack who is on the scene.

The Lenoir County Sheriff’s Office says two people in a separate building at the scene were arrested during the standoff on unrelated charges. They say a new shift of deputies is arriving soon to allow those who worked overnight to get some rest.

The last time a deputy was shot in Lenoir County was in 2009 when Detective Allen Pearson Jr. died in action in Tick Bite.

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The Lenoir County Sheriff’s Office has identified the deputy who was shot Thursday night as 30-year-old Steven Key.

Key is a K9 deputy with the sheriff’s office. He was treated and released from UNC Lenoir Health Care around midnight and has headed home for the night, according to Sheriff Ronnie Ingram.

Key responded to a domestic call on Lang Skinner Road before 9 p.m. When the deputy addressed the suspect, who was standing in the yard with his back to the road, turned around with an assault-type rifle and shot at the deputy.

Key was hit in the neck.

As of 2:50 a.m. Friday, officials say the standoff continues, but the sheriff confirmed this is not a hostage situation.

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Lenoir Count Sheriff, Ronnie Ingram confirmed that the deputy that was shot Thursday night has been treated and released from UNC Lenoir Health Care in Kinston.

The name of the deputy is still not being released.

According to the Lenoir County Sheriff’s Office, the deputy responded to a domestic call at 2544 Lang Skinner Road.

When the deputy addressed the suspect, who was standing in the yard with his back to the road, the suspect turned around with an assault-type rifle and shot at the deputy.

The deputy was hit in the neck.

The deputy crouched behind his police car and called for backup around 8:53 p.m.

When the backup arrived, the deputy was taken to UNC Lenoir Health Care.

Sheriff Ingram said they believe the suspect is still in the area, specifically in the home or outbuilding.

All the homes have been evacuated in the area with some evacuees going to the North Lenoir Volunteer Fire Department No. 3 station.

Law enforcement officials have surrounded and blocked off the area around 2544 Lang Skinner Road.

Previous Story

Law enforcement members are on the scene of a shooting in La Grange where a Lenoir County Sheriff’s Office deputy was shot and injured while responding to a domestic call at a residence at 2544 Lang Skinner Road.

Five agencies are assisting at the confirmed address: Wayne County, Lenoir County, Craven County Sheriff’s Office, Kinston police and NC Highway Patrol

Lt. Jerry Davis with the Lenoir County Sheriff’s Office says the injured officer was taken to an undisclosed hospital. The officer’s condition is unknown.

Law enforcement on the scene of a deputy shot in La Grange
Law enforcement on the scene of a deputy shot in La Grange(WITN)

Lt. Davis says the suspect is barricaded in a home on Lang Skinner Road off of Sutton Loop Road.

WITN News has a reporter on the scene and will have a live report at 11:00 p.m.

Stay with WITN News as we continue to gather details.

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