Two men, including a former North Carolina sheriff’s deputy, are facing criminal charges after leading a White mob to the home of a Black teen in search of a missing person. According to reports from the Associated Press and The New York Times, it was determined to be a case of mistaken identity.
The troubling event took place on May 3 in the small area of Pender County, which is roughly 25 miles from Wilmington. Former deputy Jordan Kita, who worked with the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, and another man, Austin Wood, led a group of armed White men and women to the home of Monica Shepard and son Dameon.
The New York Times reports that the incident was detailed in a letter from the Shepards’ attorney, James W. Lea III, to the district attorney of New Hanover and Pender County, Benjamin David. Lea wrote that the men appeared at the Shepard home around 10 p.m., demanding that 18-year-old Dameon, who was playing video games at the time, give them the whereabouts of a 16-year-old girl by the name of Lekayda Kempisty.
Though off duty, Kita was still in uniform, and he was joined by Wood and another man. All three of them were armed. Behind them was a mob of roughly a dozen people, attempting to push their way into the Shepard home. The group claimed the person they were looking for was named Josiah, likely a neighbor who moved from the area a month prior.
At some point, after invoking fear in the family, the mob realized they were at the wrong home and dispersed. On Friday, May 8, at a press conference, Pender County Sheriff Alan Cutler said the behavior was enough to fire Kita, who had been hired in 2018, and charge him with trespassing and breaking and entering.
“Misdemeanor charges for what happened to my family that night with over ten people trespassing on our property trying to use weapons and fear to break into my home—I truly hope the Pender County Sheriff’s Department acts with more urgency and compassion than they have shown so far,” Monica Shepard told the NYT of the charges.
Though Kita is facing some level of accountability for his actions, Shepard believes it’s not enough for what she and her son were forced to endure. Details of the case are still being revealed.