07/06/08 — Star James Kenan football player murdered

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Star James Kenan football player murdered

By Steve Herring
Published in News on July 6, 2008 2:01 AM

WARSAW -- For the second time in as many months, a shooting at an apartment complex has claimed an innocent life.

Derrick Barden, 18, died shortly after midnight Thursday morning after been struck by a bullet fired by a high-powered rifle. He was a member of the James Kenan High School 2007 state championship football team and was the 2007 News-Argus Defensive Player of the Year.

Warsaw Police Capt. Larry Holland said they do not know if Barden was targeted in the shooting, if it was gang related or if it was a random act.

However, after interviewing witnesses Friday, he said Barden appeared to be an innocent victim.

Barden was among of group of people standing outside of Stewart's Creek Apartments when a gunman came out of the wood line near Matthews Street and opened fire, witnesses told police.

Holland also said police have not determined if more than one suspect may have been involved in the shooting.

The suspect(s) fired multiple times from a range of 100 to 150 yards. Barden was the only one hit by the gunfire, Holland said.

Police recovered eight shell casings.

The apartment complex's first shooting occurred May 26 when Lisa Wallace, 28, who was five months pregnant at the time, was shot. Her twins were delivered next day, but both died immediately.

Gregory Chapman, 22, of 706 W. Hayes St. in Burgaw, has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the case. He was extradited from New York and was jailed in Duplin County under a $2 million bond on charges of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, and discharging a weapon into occupied property. He also was charged with possession of a firearm by a felon and placed under a $500,000 bond.

Meanwhile, Holland said the company that owns the apartment complex, which is located just off U.S. 117 in the northern part of town, is undertaking efforts to clean up the apartments. He said the company is "spending a lot of money" and is working with the Warsaw Police Department.

Holland said police are working with the owners to draft better background checks and requirements for living at the apartments.

In the meantime, those who knew Barden are struggling to understand what happened.

It is, said James Kenan football defensive coordinator John Avent, a tough thing to come to grips with.

"He was a phenomenal football player -- really special and a pleasure to coach," he said. "He always had a smile on his face."

He explained that he first heard about the shooting at about 2:30 a.m. Thursday morning when several of his players called.

"The phone doesn't normally ring that late at night. ... You just can't believe it. You don't want to believe it," he said. "He didn't get into trouble -- nothing ever out of the way ... just a good kid ... it's tough."

Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. Monday at the KEMBA Headquarters, with a burial to follow in the Devotional Gardens, both in Warsaw.

A viewing will be held today at Garris Funeral Home in Mount Olive from 3 to 6 p.m.

And, even though this is not something they've ever dealt with before, Avent said they're trying to be there for their boys, even as they prepare to head back to practice.

"We gave them the day off Thursday. We're just trying to let them work through it right now ... anything they need right now," he said. "It's just tough.

-- Assistant News Editor Matthew Whittle contributed to this report.