Homicide victim was suspect in death of shooter's father

James Earvent Chavis (Robeson County Sheriff's Office)
James Earvent Chavis (Robeson County Sheriff's Office)

LUMBERTON, NC (WMBF) Deputies with the Robeson Couth Sheriff's Office are investigating the shooting death of 30-year-old man in a convenience store just outside of Lumberton.

Major Howard Branch with the Robeson County Sheriff's Office told WMBF News that 30-year-old Fernando Fortunato Smith of Lumberton was shot and killed in the Graceland Food Mart on NC 211 W around 4:30 a.m. Wednesday morning. Smith was taken to Southeastern Regional Medical Center where he died.

Branch said that a gold car pulled up to the store that Smith was standing in and a suspect in the car pulled out a gun, shot Smith and drove away.

"At the time we didn't know who the suspect was but he was last seen driving a golden colored vehicle, so we sent out the description to the officers on patrol in the area," said Major Branch.

The description of the suspect's vehicle led deputies to the Clyburn Pines area. After spotting the car pulling behind a home in that area, the suspect fled police during a short chase right outside of Lumberton. Branch said the suspect jumped out of his car and ran, but was apprehended moments later by police.

When the chase ended, 33-year-old James Earvent Chavis of Lumberton was arrested and a handgun was recovered.

Chavis has been charged with murder. Bond was denied.

"I looked in our system and the victim has a criminal record, in 2004 the victim was charged with 1st degree murder. The victim in the 2004 murder was the suspects father," said Major Branch.

Smith was a suspect in the murder of Chavis' father, James Dell, in 2004. The Clerk of Court in Robeson County told WMBF News that the case against Smith for Dell's murder was dismissed on January 1, 2005. The reason the case was dismissed is unknown.

"We don't know if the motive behind this was stemming from the 2004 homicide, we don't know at this time but we're still doing a lot of leg work and following up on leads," said Major Branch.

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