Man charged with murder after innocent bystander shot, killed in Harnett County

Local News

LILLINGTON, N.C. (WNCN) — The Harnett County Sheriff’s Office announced on Wednesday morning that a 72-year-old innocent bystander who was shot in the head on Monday in Erwin has died and a man has been charged with murder.

Margie Pipkin was shot in the head while stopped at a stop sign Monday morning at the intersection of Bunnlevel and Beaver roads, Sheriff Wayne Coats said. She was running errands at the time of the shooting.

The sheriff said the shots were fired by “two idiots acting foolishly.”

Margie Pipkin (Family photo provided by Harnett County Sheriff’s Office)

Margie Pipkin was rushed to the hospital where her three children remained by her side the entire time.

“I can’t say enough about this woman going about her daily duties, what a grandmother would be doing, and to get caught up in something like this is disturbing,” said Coats on Wednesday.

Coats said on Tuesday that persons of interest had been identified by investigators but the sheriff did not release further information on those individuals at the time.

The sheriff identified two suspect vehicles on Monday. Coats didn’t want to say how they got the photos of the cars believed to be involved, but he said one of them was in their custody.

Harnett County deputies stopped cars to hand out flyers on Tuesday near where the shooting occurred.

One of the flyers had photos of the cars investigators linked to the suspects.

The sheriff said on Wednesday that the flyers and the Tuesday press conference led to “multiple tips” coming into his office.

Coats announced Wednesday morning that they had an arrest warrant for first-degree murder for Artis Lewis Elliott, 28, of Erwin, and a man they considered “armed and dangerous.” Elliott was on the run after he failed to turn himself in to authorities on the murder charge at 10 a.m., Coats said.

Addressing earlier comments about “persons of interest” in the case, Coat said that, “There [were] two cars involved but only one that we can confirm was doing the shooting, and the evidence we’ve got points to Mr. Elliott.”

He went on to say that he believed Elliott “was the only one involved in killing Ms. Pipkin.”

Artis Lewis Elliott (Harnett County Sheriff’s Office)

“I look forward to putting him in our jail in custody. This is not going to bring closure to the family, but maybe it will help in some way and maybe we can stop this from happening again,” said Coats.

Coats said that investigators believe they know who Elliott’s intended target was but they are not going to release that person’s name “for safety reasons.”

Elliott was originally facing different charges but since Pipkin died on Tuesday night, those charges will likely be dropped due to the new murder charge, the sheriff said.

At approximately 10:30 a.m., following the press conference, Elliott turned himself in, authorities said.

Sheriff’s deputies told CBS 17 that Elliott was quiet and reserved as he turned himself in. He had four or five family members with him and hugged them goodbye before being taken into custody.

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