Drug deal gone wrong impetus for deadly NC shooting; teen suspect held on $1M bond

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Colby Neill Pridgen. (Courtesy of the Brunswick County Sheriff's Office via WECT)

Colby Neill Pridgen. (Courtesy of the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office via WECT)

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) – Prosecutors said the shooting that claimed the life of Jacary Bethel last week was the result of a drug deal that went wrong.

Colby Neill Pridgen, 16, made his first appearance in a Brunswick County courtroom Wednesday afternoon, charged with murder and assault with a deadly weapon, among other charges.

During Pridgen’s court appearance, a judge modified his bond to $1 million for all the charges. Investigators initially said that Pridgen was 17 years old, however, in court, prosecutors said he was actually 16 and is ineligible for the death penalty.

Jacary Bethel and his best friend, Eyan Thomas, were both shot at the Cardinal Pointe Apartments in Shallotte around 11 p.m. Friday. Bethel died at the scene. Thomas was rushed to a local hospital where he underwent surgery and is currently in stable condition.

Javon Bethel, 17, who is Jacary’s brother, and Kasey Jennings Hollar, 19, were both arrested on charges of first-degree kidnapping, common law robbery and conspiracy to commit common law robbery. They were jailed under a $100,000 bonds each.

In court Wednesday, prosecutors said the Bethel brothers, Thomas, and Hollar used Snapchat to set up a meeting to buy Xanax from Pridgen, who was described as a “blossoming drug dealer” by the assistant district attorney.

Prosecutors said the quartet planned to use the meeting as an opportunity to rob Pridgen.

At the meet up, Pridgen got into their car and sat between Thomas and Jacary Bethel, who then put Pridgen in a headlock. The rest of the teens joined in in assaulting Pridgen, who pulled out a gun and fired two shots.

The first shot hit Jacary Bethel and the second shot hit Thomas in the hip. Pridgen managed to escape from the car and fired a third shot but missed, before leaving the scene.

In the chaos after the shooting, Javon Bethel and Hollar were unable to find Jacary, and rushed Thomas to the hospital.

Prosecutors called the shooting “a series of bad decisions from Mr. Pridgen” as well as “bad decisions on both sides.

Hollar and Javon Bethel’s first court appearances will be Monday.

Officials have declined to comment on whether Thomas will face charges once he’s released from the hospital.

The shooting is still under investigation.

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