Woman survived Clarkton triple killing by playing dead, sheriff’s office says
CLARKTON, N.C. (WECT) - The woman who survived a shooting that killed three people has been released from the hospital.
Deputies say 69-year-old Hazel Epps survived the attack when she played dead after the suspect shot her in the torso.
Officials with the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office confirmed early Monday morning that Taurean Johnson surrendered to law enforcement Sunday night. Warrants had been issued for Johnson for three counts of murder and one count of attempted murder.
Johnson, appearing via video conference, was denied bond during his first court appearance on the charges Monday afternoon.
At around 1:30 a.m. Sunday, the Bladen County 911 center got a call about a shooting at 71 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 and one other victim with a gunshot wound, who survived.
The victims were identified as 30-year-old Katrice Lacole Murchison, 27-year-old Ronnie Lebert Kelly, 60-year-old Guy Lennon Barden, Jr.
Angel Murchison grew up with her cousin Katrice Murchison.
“I didn’t know what to think," said Angel Murchison. "I just got up and it’s like I’ve been up ever since. She was a very close cousin of mine. And that’s just something to hear in the middle of the night that breaks your heart because you would have never thought you would get a phone call telling you your niece was shot and killed, your cousin, your aunt, mother, whoever. I mean, it’s just heartbreaking.”
Angel says Katrice just celebrated her daughter’s birthday two weeks prior to the shooting.
“Just knowing that her daughter won’t see her mother again and that I won’t see her again is hard,” said Angel. "I’m still trying to take this in. You know. It’s not easy. At all. It’s not easy.”
According to the N.C. Department of Public Safety website, Johnson has numerous previous convictions for charges including common law robbery and communicating threats. The site states that Johnson’s parole for a firearm-related conviction ended on Feb. 14.
Anyone with information is asked to please contact the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office at 910-862-6960.
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