Police: Man killed after gunfight, crash knew Smithfield homicide victim

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State troopers have named the man killed in a Monday afternoon gun battle and law enforcement chase, and police say he was acquainted with a woman found dead at her Smithfield home.

Troopers identified 26-year-old Enrique Lopez of Smithfield as the man who fired gunshots at state troopers who pursued the stolen tow truck he was driving. 

N.C. Highway Patrol spokesman Sgt. Chris Knox said troopers returned fire as the Monday chase neared Clayton. Lopez crashed the tow truck into a tree on the shoulder of U.S. 70 Business East near the Nick’s Flippin’ Kids gymnasium located east of town.

Knox said investigators have determined Trooper J.J. Kiser shot Lopez during the chase. Kiser, a nine-year veteran, was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation. The State Medical Examiner’s Office is determining the cause of Lopez’s death. 

State troopers tried to stop the stolen tow truck around 4:23 p.m. Monday on Black Creek Road outside Smithfield. Knox said local law enforcement officers had requested assistance. 


Smithfield Police Chief Keith Powell reported a missing woman found dead on Tuesday. 

Powell said police were dispatched to 617 S. Fourth St. to investigate a woman’s disappearance. The woman was last seen at the home at 2:30 p.m. Monday. Powell said police searched the area outside the home and found the woman’s body. 

Police have not released the woman’s name, pending family notification. Police also have not said how the woman was killed. Her death is being investigated as a homicide. 

Lopez and the Smithfield woman were acquaintances, police said, but the relationship between the pair has not been described. It was unclear Tuesday whether the cases were connected.

Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Chris Blinson of the Smithfield Police Department at 919-934-2121.