Search Warrants: Text Messages About Drug Deal Made Prior To Selma Homicide

Newly released search warrants have revealed additional information about the shooting death of a Smithfield teenager in the Selma city limits.   JoCoReport has obtained copies of three search warrants issued following the January 4th, 2020 shooting death of 19 year-old Malik Muhammed Shepard and the wounding of 21 year-old Tyquan Kamil Dublin, both of Smithfield.

On January 9th, Selma Police announced the arrests of Kevin Ruiz, 20, of Camp Lejeune, Julian Furr, 23, of Holly Ridge, and Marcus Thomas, 16, on murder charges.

According to the search warrants, a police officer was sitting in his patrol car on the night of January 4th when he heard several gunshots from the area of W. Preston Street and S. Green Street.  He arrived on the scene and located a silver Saturn passenger car stopped on W. Preston Street with the passenger side door open. Police found Malik Shepard unresponsive in the driver’s seat with a gunshot wound to his head. Shepard was pronounced deceased at the scene.  The windows of the vehicle were broken out and there was a strong odor of marijuana inside the car, police said in the search warrant.  In plain view in the passenger seat “a green vegetable matter consistent with marijuana” was located.  Several bullet casings were found on the ground near the broken glass.  A witness reported seeing two people run across a field at Harrison School and get into a white or gray Honda Civic and leave the area quickly.  According to the search warrant, the getaway car had a broken back glass but had an object covering the opening.

While police were on the scene investigating the fatal shooting they received a report that a person had been transported by private vehicle to Johnston Medical Center. The individual was suffering from a gunshot wound. He was later identified as Tyquan Dublin.

During the police investigation detectives learned “several text relating to a drug deal were sent and received to a cell phone belonging to Marcus Thomas.”

“The text on the phone were learned during interviews to be between Marcus Thomas and Tyquan Dublin in relation to purchasing marijuana,” the search warrant stated.

As part of the probe, a search warrant was issued on a 1998 Honda Civic pulled from a rural farm pond on the morning of January 5th at 386 Barnes Road, Middlesex, in northern Johnston County.  The owner told Johnston County deputies the car should have been in their driveway and that it had been stolen. The car had a broken rear window and passenger window.  Police obtain DNA swabs from the vehicle and lifted fingerprints.

Selma Police Detective W. Baker told JoCoReport officers later determined the Honda pulled from the farm pond doesn’t appear to be connected to the homicide, however, it has not completely been ruled out.

Police and the NC SBI seized several pieces of evidence from the silver Saturn passenger car on W. Preston Street where Shepard had been shot and killed.  Those items included DNA swabs, fingerprints, projectiles, a green leafy substance suspected to be marijuana, an iPhone, and a wallet.

On January 14th, Superior Court Judge Thomas Lock signed an additional search warrant allowing police and SBI agents to search cell phones reportedly belonging to the victim and suspects.

Detective Baker told JoCoReport additional arrests in the case have not been ruled out.  Police have also not officially released a motive.

Malik Shepherd was a former standout on the Smithfield Selma High School football team.  Shepherd was less than a week away from starting at Barton College in Wilson when he was killed. He was also expecting a baby girl.  A candlelight vigil was held Jan. 6th to remember Malik, who was known for always having a smile on his face.  Hundreds of people attended. They lit candles and prayed for an end to the violence.

Photos by John Payne