The stepfather of a 10-year-old child shot in the face Thursday night has received an additional felony charge — and significantly raised bond — after further investigation into what Sampson Sheriff’s officials deemed a self-inflicted shooting.
Jeffrey Lee Newton Jr., 31, of 60 Maddie Lane, Harrells, was initially charged with permitting a child to have access/use of a firearm and contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile. He was placed in the Sampson County Detention Center under $5,000 secured bond while the investigation continued. Later Friday, a charge of felony negligent child abuse inflicting serious physical injury was leveled against Newton, for which he was placed under an additional $100,000 secured bond.
The 10-year-old boy was in Newton’s care at the time. Authorities said Newton allowed the boy to have access to a firearm, reportedly a small-caliber weapon. New details reveal that the 10-year-old was one of five children in the area of Belvin Maynard Road, Harrells, with Newton at the time of the shooting. The other children ranged in age from 2 to 14.
At about 7 p.m. Thursday, units were dispatched to 60 Maddie Lane, Harrells, when a call came in to the Sampson County E-911 Center that a 10-year-old boy had been shot in the face. Deputies were initially told the child and his father were walking down Belvin Maynard Road when the father heard a gunshot and “saw his son fall.”
He carried the child back to their residence, just a few hundred yards off Belvin Maynard, in close proximity to Wildcat Road. He reportedly called the boy’s mother, who then called her stepfather, Newton’s father, to pick the boy up and take him to the hospital.
Sheriff’s officials said they were “unable to comment” on whether Newton had consumed alcohol prior to the shooting.
Before emergency personnel could arrive on the scene, the child’s step-grandfather had picked him up and was rushing toward Clinton in an attempt to transport him to the hospital. A responding deputy, Officer Jason Riley, intercepted the vehicle carrying the child and started rendering first aid until Sampson County EMS personnel arrived on the scene.
Riley, speaking to The Independent Friday, said he was able to flag the vehicle down and immediately saw the boy sitting in the passenger’s seat with an obvious wound on his right cheek. He was alert, but “you could tell he was needing some help,” said Riley, who noted the boy’s nearly slipping out of consciousness.
“It all unfolded really quick,” said Riley, who has been with the Sheriff’s Office nearly eight years. “They said he was grazed, but he was bleeding pretty good. I was just trying to keep him calm. He looked up at me and said, ‘Are you going to make me better?’ I have kids myself. That kind of hit at the heart strings.”
The bullet was actually lodged in the boy’s cheek. When EMS arrived moments later, it was Riley who drove the ambulance up U.S. 421 toward Clinton as the two paramedics attended to the boy en route to the emergency landing zone at Sampson Regional Medical Center. With just two emergency personnel on some ambulances, it is not out of the ordinary to have someone else drive.
“Not if it’s trauma like that,” Riley noted.
A helicopter was waiting to airlift the boy to UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill.
“He did an excellent job,” Sheriff Jimmy Thornton said of Riley. When hearing what the boy said to Riley, Thornton was particularly touched and praised his deputy for giving the boy comfort when he needed it most.
“You just do what you have to do,” Riley attested. “I have kids myself, so it’s always personal when there’s a child involved.”
Riley called UNC Hospitals to check on the boy Friday morning. He was in stable condition upon last report.
“He’s doing much better,” Thornton said. “He’s going to be OK.”
The Sampson County Department of Social Services have been contacted about the case.
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.