Woman survived Bladen County triple killing by playing dead, sheriff’s office says

North Carolina news

CLARKTON, N.C. (WNCN) – A 69-year-old woman played dead after being shot to survive what the sheriff’s office said was a triple killing in Bladen County early Sunday.

Taurean Johnson

At around 1:30 a.m. Sunday, the Bladen County 911 Center got a call about a shooting on Tina Lane in Clarkton. The caller said a man had entered their home, shot several people, and left.

Deputies and EMS arrived on scene and found three people who had been shot and killed.

A fourth victim, 69-year-old Hazel Epps, survived by playing dead after being shot in the torso, the sheriff’s office said.

Epps called 911 in the aftermath of the shootings.

“Somebody’s in the house still,” she said. “Yes, I know who did it.”

Epps told the operator she was shot in the back and bleeding.

“Somebody came in my house and shot everybody here including me,” she told the 911 dispatcher. “But I believe everybody is dead except me.”

She can be heard praying and asking for help.

Epps has since been released from the hospital.

The victims are 30-year-old Catrice Lacole Murchison, 27-year-old Ronnie Lebert Kelly, and 60-year-old Guy Lennon Barden, Jr.

The sheriff’s office did not give a motive behind the shooting but there was no forced entry at the residence.

Investigators have not been able to recover any weapons related to the killings.

The suspect, Taurean Johnson, turned himself into law enforcement Sunday night, officials said.

Warrants had been issued for Johnson for three counts of murder and one count of attempted murder.

Johnson is being held without bond and is scheduled to appear in court March 16.

The investigation is continuing at this time, anyone with information please contact the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office at 910-862-6960.

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