Smithfield Police Department Chief Keith Powell said they are investigating the death of a 28-year-old woman, who was found outside a residence on the 600-block of S. 4th Street at 6:51 a.m. On Wednesday morning, police identified the victim as Alanda Mae Abarca.
Abarca was last seen on Monday at 2:30 p.m. at the residence.
She is the mother of two of the suspect’s children, neighbors and police said.
Authorities say the woman was reported missing, which prompted the police investigation. The case is being treated as a homicide at this time.
Police said on Wednesday that Abarca and the suspect, 26-year-old Enrique Lopez, “were in a dating relationship.”
The incident, which involved a stolen tow truck, happened along U.S. 70 Business near Hardee Lane and ended with a crash just after 4:35 p.m., officials said.
“My mind goes really fast,” said Esnelido Zuniga. “What’s going on in the neighborhood where I live? I never thought it would be something like this.”
“It’s ridiculous that bodies come out like that,” said Zuniga. “It’s the first time I’ve seen a body come out of a place.”
“[Lopez] He was being pursued for a stolen vehicle, so it hardly seems worth the outcome we have today,” said Clayton Police Chief C. Blair Myhand.
The chase began at 4:23 p.m. along Black Creek Road in Johnston County after local officials contacted the North Carolina State Highway Patrol.
“As I was getting ready to leave work I saw, heard sirens and police cars just flying by. Like one after the other,” said witness Carla Cawth.
During the chase, the Lopez fired at the trooper, who returned fire, hitting Lopez, authorities said.
Lopez ran over stop sticks deployed on U.S. 70 by law enforcement – forcing the tow truck to cross into the other lanes of traffic and then plow into a tree.
“At 4:30 in the afternoon on Highway 70, the fact that no cars were hit in this is amazing. It’s just sheer luck,” said Myhand.
Authorities from Four Oaks, Smithfield and Clayton were also involved in the chase.
The entire highway was closed for about 35 minutes.
The state trooper was not injured and the motive behind the incident is unknown at this time.
The SBI will conduct an independent review. The highway patrol will also do an internal review. Both are standard anytime an officer is involved in a shooting.
Anyone with any information regarding the death of Abarca is asked to contact Detective Blinson with the Smithfield Police Department at 919-934-2121
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