UPDATE: Woman found dead in Johnston County was mother of chase, shootout suspect’s children

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CLAYTON, N.C. (WNCT, WNCN)

UPDATE: A female acquaintance of the man who led police on a high–speed chase in Johnston County on Monday was found dead Tuesday morning.

Smithfield Police Department Chief Keith Powell said they are investigating the death of a 28-year-old woman, who was found outside a residence on the 600-block of S. 4th Street at 6:51 a.m. Tuesday.

The victim was last seen on Monday at 2:30 p.m. at the residence.

Neighbors said she is the mother of two children belonging to the chase and shootout suspect, who N.C. State Troopers identified as Enrique Lopez, 26, of Smithfield, N.C.

Authorities say the woman was reported missing, which prompted the police investigation. Her death is being investigated as a homicide at this time.

According to a press release, law enforcement is still working to notify the victim’s family members. They have not said if Lopez is connected to her death.

Monday’s chase, which involved a stolen tow truck, began just after 4:35 p.m. on U.S. 70 Business near Hardee Lane in Clayton, officials said.

According to investigators, Lopez began shooting at Trooper J. J. Kiser during the chase, and Trooper Kiser returned fire, hitting Lopez once, as the pursuit approached the city of Clayton.

The chase ended after Lopez ran over stop sticks deployed by police on U.S. 70, which forced the tow truck to cross into the other lanes of traffic and crash into a tree.

Lopez was pronounced dead at the crash scene.

The entire highway was closed for about 35 minutes.

Authorities from Four Oaks, Smithfield and Clayton were also involved in the chase.

The state trooper was not injured and the motive behind the incident is unknown at this time.

The State Medical Examiner’s Office is currently trying to determine the cause of Lopez’s death.

Trooper J. J. Kiser, a 9-year veteran stationed in Troop C, District 6 (Johnston County), has been placed on administrative duty pending an internal investigation, according to agency protocol for trooper-involved shootings.

The SBI will conduct an independent review. The highway patrol will also do an internal review. Both are standard anytime an officer is involved in a shooting.

UPDATE: The North Carolina Department of Public Safety has released the identity of the suspect killed Monday in a shootout with State Troopers as he led them on a chase in Johnston County.

State Troopers say Enrique Lopez, 26, of Smithfield, N.C., stole a tow truck and led Troopers and local police on a chase, which began just after 4:35 p.m. Monday on U.S. 70 Business near Hardee Lane in Clayton.

According to investigators, Lopez began shooting at Trooper J. J. Kiser during the chase, and Trooper Kiser returned fire, hitting Lopez once, as the pursuit approached the city of Clayton.

The chase ended after Lopez ran over stop sticks deployed by police on U.S. 70, which forced the tow truck to cross into the other lanes of traffic and crash into a tree.

Lopez was pronounced dead at the crash scene.

The entire highway was closed for about 35 minutes.

Authorities from Four Oaks, Smithfield and Clayton were also involved in the chase.

The state trooper was not injured and the motive behind the incident is unknown at this time.

The State Medical Examiner’s Office is currently trying to determine the cause of Lopez’s death.

Trooper J. J. Kiser, a 9-year veteran stationed in Troop C, District 6 (Johnston County), has been placed on administrative duty pending an internal investigation, according to agency protocol for trooper-involved shootings.

The SBI will conduct an independent review. The highway patrol will also do an internal review. Both are standard anytime an officer is involved in a shooting.



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