Two wounded, three charged in Chocowinity shooting

Published 7:24 pm Monday, October 15, 2018

CHOCOWINITY — Three teenage suspects face felony charges this week after a social media argument escalated to a shooting last Wednesday.

According to the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, Desmond Trieke Gorham, 18, and his cousin, Kyale Devon Gaskins Jr., 20, were both shot in the front yard of a residence on Gray Road in Chocowinity.

Three individuals, Shemar Leslie Pope, 18, of Chocowinity, James Lee McKinney Jr., 19, of Edward, and Jaquan Maliak Taylor, 16, of Washington, were each charged with two counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, inflicting serious injury.

According to a release from the BCSO, deputies were called to the scene of the shooting at 1082 Gray Road at about 6:40 p.m. on Oct. 10. When they arrived, they learned two men had been shot and were already transported to the emergency room at Vidant Beaufort Hospital by a private vehicle.

BCSO investigators also responded to the shooting scene and the emergency department  and began piecing the facts together. Investigators learned that an online argument between Pope and Gorham had escalated to violence when Pope and three others showed up at the Gray Road residence to fight with Gorham.

According to the release, after a brief verbal altercation, one of the four opened fire, discharging six-to-seven rounds, hitting both Gorham and Gaskins. All four fled the scene immediately after. As to who actually shot Gorham and Gaskins, BCSO Lt. Jim VanLandingham says there have been conflicting stories on what happened.

“As to who actually fired the weapon, that’s debatable at this point,” VanLandingham said. “It’s kind of a ‘he said, he said’ kind of thing. Obviously, we know, since we have two people shot, someone fired a weapon.”

After processing the crime scene and taking statements from both victims and eyewitnesses at the scene, investigators began their search for the suspects.

Pope, however, turned himself into the BCSO on the same night, the release states. The next day, McKinney and Taylor were identified as suspects and charged by deputies. According to VanLandingham, a fourth suspect has been identified but has not yet been charged.

Pope’s bond was set at $40,000, McKinney’s bond was set at $50,000 and Taylor’s bond was set at $30,000. According to the release, the investigation is ongoing and more arrests are possible.

According to VanLandingham, the weapon used in the shooting is believed to be a handgun, but the weapon has not yet been recovered. While the exact content of the argument between Pope and Gorham is unclear, VanLandingham confirmed that Pope is currently dating an ex-girlfriend of Gorham.

According to the release, Gorham was treated and released on the same night. Kyale Gaskins was transferred to Vidant Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries. According to communications staff at Vidant Medical Center, Gaskins was no longer a patient at the hospital as of Monday afternoon.