A mother and son's relaxing Sunday night at home suddenly turned scary and dangerous when an all-white crowd of armed local residents demanded entry into their home.
The mob eventually dispersed after realizing it had the wrong house, but not before creating an alarming scene in the doorway.
Monica Shepard and her son, Dameon live in Pender County, North Carolina. They aimed to spend their recent Sunday night quietly: Monica heading to sleep early and Dameon remaining awake to play video games.
The peaceful night at home came to an abrupt halt when a large mob arrived at the Shepard's front door.
Armed 'mob' allegedly tried to enter black family's North Carolina home. White deputy Jordan Kita charged. Among th… https://t.co/t96ZMM13mW— Shomari Stone (@Shomari Stone) 1589141288.0
WECTreports that when Dameon answered the door the group—composed entirely of White people—demanded information about a local missing girl, according to a letter written by the Shepard's attorney, James Lea.
Monica and Dameon Shepard are both Black.
Lea's letter, which was addressed to the Pender County District Attorney, goes on to provide even more details about the incident. The crowd arrived at the Shepard's hoping to find someone named Josiah, a possible connection to the missing child. Josiah had lived in the house next door but moved away a month prior.
#HAPPENINGNOW: The Pender County Sheriff’s Office & DA’s Office is speaking about an incident involving a Laney HS… https://t.co/8LbdAG77Mt— Kylie Jones WWAY (@Kylie Jones WWAY) 1588968803.0
And even though Dameon repeatedly identified himself, the mob remained at the doorstep and pressed for more information, despite Dameon's complete lack of any knowledge at all. One person in the crowd carried an assault weapon and another held a shotgun. Among the mob's members was an armed and uniformed off-duty Sheriff's Deputy, J.T. Kita.
Lea's letter goes on to explain that when Dameon tried to close the door, Kita held it open with his foot and demanded entry. It was at this point that Monica Shepard awoke and came to her son's aid.
She told WECT what happened when she tried to shut the door.
"[Deputy Kita] just said 'I'm going to step inside, close the door and talk to you guys.' And I said, 'no you're not.'"
"He had his foot on the threshold of my door, holding the door open and he said it again, he said 'I'm going to step inside close the door and I'll talk to you,' when I said 'no you're not,'"
When the facts became clearer the mob dispersed, only to return again as illegitimate backup when more Sheriff Deputies arrived at the house on account of the disturbance.
Nobody in the mob was charged or questioned.
Lea's letter to the DA demands greater accountability for the trespassing group:
"We obviously cannot have armed groups of citizens patrolling the streets of Pender County or New Hanover County terrorizing innocent families."
"Add to the fact that they were also accompanied by apparently a New Hanover County Sheriff's Deputy that was off duty and armed, makes this matter particularly egregious."
According to Yahoo! News, Deputy Kita has been fired and charged with trespassing, as well as breaking and entering. Another gun-toting member of the mob was charged with "going armed to the terror of the public."
May 8 Press Conference on 'vigilante group' in Pender Countyyoutu.be
All are misdemeanor charges.
After several outlets covered the story, people across the internet were quick to share their appalled responses to the incident.
@nytimes Did I hear that right? They are only planning to file misdemeanor charges for a deputy in uniform leading… https://t.co/MsPnG8nRV0— 🦠🧴🧻176 days to November 3🧻🧴🦠 (@🦠🧴🧻176 days to November 3🧻🧴🦠) 1589215352.0
@nytimes You misspelled “lynch mob.”— Charlie (@Charlie) 1589217251.0
@TIME Variations on a theme.— Acapellant (@Acapellant) 1589217473.0
@nytimes Mistaken identity!? They think all blacks look alike? All houses look alike? Furthermore it was wrong o… https://t.co/rKRXZGACT2— What Jinx (@What Jinx) 1589218503.0
@TIME Racism alive and well in North Carolina. I hope someday America can put that behind them. I hope Americans le… https://t.co/QenDyWkpnL— Michael Santana (@Michael Santana) 1589217645.0
Though the incident is all over with, Monica Shepard is still reeling from the horror of the nighttime threat. Unfortunately, she has no trouble seeing how this story could have ended.
"Coming to the door like that with a mob of people with guns what do we expect? What were their intentions? What if he was the person they were looking for or what if I was not home? What would've happened?"
"I don't want to have that conversation. I don't want him to be a statistic. It's scary."