Lenoir County manhunt ends in gunfight, suspect taken into custody


LA GRANGE, N.C. (WNCT) – UPDATE (11:32 p.m., Saturday)

The manhunt for Robert Lee Strother ended at 8:34 p.m. on Saturday at a Banks School Road residence.

A caller to 911 at 8:19 p.m. identified a man fitting the description of Strother was on the porch of the residence. Lenoir County Sheriff Ronnie Ingram called for two armored vehicles to go to the address.

When the armored vehicles approached Strother at the address, Strother was instructed to surrender to the authorities.

However, he didn’t surrender and a gunfight ensued between Strother and the multiple agencies at the scene.

The suspect was hit by gunfire on multiple parts of his body; EMS was called to transport him to a hospital. No law enforcement officers were struck by gunfire.

Since the suspect was hit by gunfire from a law enforcement officer, the State Bureau of Investigation will take over the investigation of the incident.

UPDATE (8:38 p.m., Saturday)

The suspect, Robert Lee Strother, is in custody.

He was apprehended near 3530 Banks School Road in Kinston.

More details to follow.

UPDATE (2:15 p.m., Saturday)

The manhunt for Robert Lee Strother continues Saturday afternoon with five additional agencies lending their support to the effort: The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; Greene County Sheriff’s Office, New Bern Police Department, Snow Hill Police Department, and the Washington Police Department.

“We are very very appreciative of the efforts from our neighboring agencies. We couldn’t have accomplished as much as we have without them to this point,” said Lenoir County Public Information Officer Bryan Hanks.

The red Dodge Dakota truck Strother stole after he critically shot its owner has been removed from where it was abandoned on Friday. The vehicle was found in the wood line surrounded by severe undergrowth; it was still running and in reverse, but stuck in the undergrowth when it was discovered by officials Friday.

“They were able to secure the perimeter of the vehicle. After that they were able to get it in position of the Lenoir County Sheriff’s Department,” said Hanks.

Lenoir County Sheriff Ronnie Ingram is urging to the public to help with credible information about the whereabouts of Strother. Residents may call 252-559-6118 or 911 to share that information with law enforcement.

PREVIOUS REPORT (6:50 a.m., Saturday):

The multi-agency manhunt for Robert Lee Strother continued throughout the night Friday into Saturday morning in the Kennedy Home Road corridor.

Helicopters from the State Highway Patrol used night vision technology and were joined by drones operated by Greenville Police Department and Onslow County Sheriff’s Office personnel in the search for Strother. Deputies and officers from the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, Pitt County Sheriff’s Office and the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office maintained and guarded the perimeter all night long.

As the sun rises over Lenoir County this morning, more agencies will be on hand to assist the Lenoir County Sheriff’s Office, including Greene County, said LCSO Maj. Ryan Dawson. He also asked for the public’s aid in apprehending Strother, who has multiple felony charges pending after shooting LCSO Dep. Steven Key Thursday night and seriously wounding a Lenoir County resident Friday morning and stealing his truck.

“If anyone has any tips about this case, please call 252-559-6118,” Dawson said. “We also appreciate the thoughts and prayers from Lenoir County residents the past couple of days in regards to this situation.”


The hunt continued into a second night Friday for a man wanted in the shooting of a Lenoir County deputy along with another person.

Lenoir County Sheriff Ronnie Ingram said Friday night that numerous law enforcement agencies continued to look for Robert Lee Strother. He is accused of shooting a deputy, Steven Key, 30, who was responding to a domestic call at 2544 Lang Skinner Road. He was identified as a K-9 officer with the sheriff’s office.

Strother is also accused of shooting a Lenoir County resident, who has not been identified, multiple times earlier Friday. Strother also stole the man’s red 2003 Dodge Dakota extended cab pickup truck. That vehicle was found earlier Friday but Strother was nowhere to be found.

The resident who was shot was listed in critical condition, Ingram said earlier Friday.

Ingram said the search for Strother continued inside a perimeter that had been established along the Kennedy Home Road corridor from Snake Road to Lang Skinner Road.

That search is being aided by night vision technology from several agencies, including the State Highway Patrol, Pitt County Sheriff’s Office, Onslow County Sheriff’s Office, New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, Craven County Sheriff’s Office and the SBI.

“We are truly appreciative of all these agencies that are helping us find Mr. Strother,” Ingram said.

Ingram said residents along Lang Skinner Road who were evacuated when the incident began Thursday night were encouraged to stay away from their homes until Strother has been apprehended.

“If residents want to return now, they are returning at their own risk,” Ingram said. “(Strother) has shown what he will do, as evidenced by his actions (Friday) morning. He is still armed and extremely dangerous.”


The red Dodge Dakota has been located in a woodline in the Kennedy Home Road area; however, there is no sign of Strother.

Officials said drones are being used in the search.

The shooting of the driver of the Dodge Dakota occurred near Lang Skinner Road.


Inside the perimeter set by law enforcement, at approximately 6:44 a.m., Robert Lee Strother shot a Lenoir County resident multiple times and stole his red 2003 Dodge Dakota extended cab pickup truck with N.C. license plate BAP-2430.

He appeared to be headed north on a dirt path toward the power lines in the Kennedy Home Road area after the shooting.

A State Highway Patrol helicopter is currently being used to locate Strother.

Additionally, the FBI and SBI have been called in to assist in the search.

Officials said, the condition of this morning’s shooting victim is unknown at this time; he was taken to an undisclosed hospital.

Lenoir County Sheriff Ronnie Ingram asked county residents to safely be on the lookout for Strother.

“(Strother) is armed and extremely dangerous,” Ingram said. “Do not approach him or the truck if you see either. Call 911 immediately if you see him or the truck.”


The Lenoir County Sheriff’s Office has identified the suspect in Thursday night’s shooting: Robert Lee Strother, 30.

He has four felony warrants sworn against him from last night’s shooting:

  • Attempted first-degree murder
  • Assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill and inflict serious injury
  • Discharging a weapon in an occupied dwelling
  • Possession of firearm by felon

Officials state there will be additional charges brought against Strother.

Within the past couple of hours, it has been determined Strother is not in the mobile home or outbuilding at 2544 Lang Skinner Road after law enforcement officials searched both.

However, two people, a man, and a woman were arrested on unrelated charges after being found in the outbuilding.

We think we have him contained,” the sheriff said. “As daylight comes on, we’ll have a better idea.”

The Lenoir Co. Sheriff’s deputy has been released from the hospital after being shot while responding to the domestic call Thursday night.

The incident happened at a home in the 2500 block Lang Skinner Road, which is in the vicinity of Kennedy Home Road. Officials said the deputy, Steven Key, 30, was responding to a domestic call. He was identified as a K-9 officer with the sheriff’s office.

The suspect was standing in the yard with his back to the road when Key addressed the suspect. The suspect then turned around with an assault-type rifle and fired shots at Key, hitting him in the neck area.

Lenoir County Sheriff Ronnie Ingram said just before 3 a.m. that a standoff continues at the residence with the suspect, who likely has a dog with him. There were no hostages involved.

Ingram said all the homes on that road had been evacuated and are either staying with family or friends or are gathered at the North Lenoir Volunteer Fire Department No. 3 station.

The deputy crouched behind his cruiser and called for backup at 8:53 p.m. When backup arrived, the deputy was evacuated to UNC Lenoir Health Care. He was released from the hospital after midnight and was sent home.

“We are very thankful and grateful to all the agencies that have helped respond to this incident; including the armored vehicle from the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office,” Ingram said. “We also want to sincerely thank the residents of Lenoir County who have been praying for the deputy who was shot and all the officers who are on the scene.”

In addition to the LCSO, the Kinston Police Department, the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, the State Highway Patrol and the Craven County Sheriff’s Office other agencies that are aiding in the search include Lenoir County EMS and Lenoir County Emergency Services.

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