RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The man involved in Monday afternoon’s chase, shootout and crash on U.S. 70 Business in Johnston County has been identified — and authorities say he was shot by a trooper during the mobile shootout.
North Carolina State Highway Patrol officials have identified the suspect as Enrique Lopez, 26, of Smithfield.
According to authorities, Lopez was shot by Trooper J.J. Kiser during the chase and shootout, which led up to the crash.
Kiser is stationed in Troop C, District 6 (Johnston County), according to officials. He is currently on administrative leave pending an internal investigation, which is standard in any trooper-involved shooting.
The incident, which involved a stolen tow truck, happened along U.S. 70 Business near Hardee Lane and ended just after 4:35 p.m., officials said.
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.
During the chase, the suspect fired at the trooper, who returned fire, authorities said.
The suspect 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.
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.
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 North Carolina Medical Examiner’s Office is currently trying to determine if Lopez died from the crash or the shooting.
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