Cumberland County Sheriff’s detectives have arrested a Hope Mills man in connection with the triple shooting March 21 that left two people dead and a third injured. Sterling J. Straughter, 20, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder. The incident occurred near the intersection of Ajax Dr. and Tower Dr. in Grays Creek.  Th victims were identified as 21-year-old Franklin Monroe of Hope Mills, and 16-year-old Cameron Emery of Fayetteville. Sheriff’s spokesman Lt. Sean Swain said a teenaged girl was hospitalized at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center. Deputies responded to the Short Stop at 4946 NC Hwy 87 S., at the intersection of Sandhills Rd. and found two young men with fatal gunshot wounds. They apparently had been driven to a nearby fire station across the street to seek help.

Cumberland County jail closed … sort of

The onset of COVID-19 in the Fayetteville community has resulted in certain governmental changes not noticeable by the general public. For instance, don’t try to enter the Cumberland County Detention Center. It has been locked down — to visitors. “We have stopped walk-in visitations at the detention center, but you can still do a video visit via the internet,” said Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Sean Swain. The local jail is one of the largest in North Carolina, housing more than 800 detainees.

First responders are taking care

Fayetteville Police emergency dispatchers are asking additional questions when callers dial 911: Is it possible for you to meet the officer outside the residence? Is anyone inside the residence experiencing flu-like symptoms or fever? Has anyone been exposed or been in contact with anyone exposed to COVID-19? 

“These questions will not slow officer response,” said Sgt. Jeremy Glass, FPD spokesman. “Officers have been reminded of the importance of using (personal protection equipment) — they are also reminded to wash their hands as often as possible whenever a handwashing station is available.”

This line of work sometimes requires close contact to either arrest, assist or provide life-saving measures to someone, Glass noted. “Officers continue to uphold their duty ... but also practice social distancing when close contact is not required, Sgt. Glass added.

Emergency care behind the scenes

The Fayetteville Fire Department has also modified its daily practices. “We follow guidance of our contagion policy much the same as we do during flu season,” said Fire Chief Mike Hill. “Fascinate-U Children’s Museum We have suspended participation in most all activities except emergency response.”

Hill said more aggressive cleaning and disinfecting of fire stations and equipment is routine. The department has minimized the number of firefighters providing patient care and, at times, first responders place surgical facemasks on patients. “Fortunately, our force is still going strong and we have experienced no degradation of service,” Hill added.

Blood in short supply

Cape Fear Valley Blood Donor Center continues to need blood donors because of an increased blood shortage partially caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. Blood donor centers nationwide face similar shortages as canceled blood drives, travel restrictions and social distancing measures take effect. The center supplies all blood products to Cape Fear Valley Health hospitals in Cumberland, Bladen, Hoke and Harnett counties. The Blood Donor Center is located in Bordeaux Shopping Center, at 3357 Village Dr., and is open for appointments. To make an appointment to donate blood, call 910-615-LIFE or email
Some DMV offices closed

The North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles has consolidated customer services to offices large enough to maintain social distancing. The DMV closed 60 branches that were too small for members of the public to remain 6 feet apart from one another. One Cumberland County office is closed on Clinton Road in Stedman. DMV offices on U.S. 301S, in Eutaw Village Shopping Center, Hope Mills and Spring Lake remain open for business by appointment.

“The safety of our customers and staff is our top priority,” said DMV Commissioner Torre Jessup. Road tests are no longer being conducted except for commercial driver licensees and medical reassessments. Many DMV services can be accomplished online, including license and registration renewals and ordering duplicate licenses and registration cards. Visit to review available services. Appointments can be made by calling the DMV customer center at 919-715-7000.

Army recruiting stations closed

The Army is the first military service to announce it is shutting down its recruiting stations to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Gen. James McConville, chief of staff of the Army, told Pentagon reporters the service will move to “virtual” recruiting through a variety of social media sites and other online activities. The Navy and Marine Corps said that they are keeping their recruiting stations open, but the services will follow state guidelines. The Air Force has not publicly indicated its intention. The move comes as the Army works to recover from recruiting shortfalls and struggles in recent years, prompting leaders to develop more programs to reach young people online.

Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said it’s not yet clear how long the shutdown will last. The Army, which is the biggest military service, has had the most difficulty bringing in needed recruits in recent years. It met the goal in 2019 for the first time in 13 years. The target goal for recruits was lowered from 76,500 in 2018 to about 68,000 last year.

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