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North Carolina police kill student accused in PlayStation 3 robbery


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WILMINGTON, North Carolina ? (AP) ? A teenager accused of robbing a student of two new Playstation 3s on the day the popular game consoles were introduced was killed by police who had been sent to arrest him.


Peyton Strickland, 18, was killed Friday at a house he shared with three roommates, New Hanover County Sheriff Sid Causey said.


"If this boy would've come to the door, opened the door, we probably wouldn't be talking,'' the sheriff said Sunday.


Roommate Mike Rhoton said Strickland was unarmed, but may have been holding a video game controller when he went to the door as it was bashed in by officers.


Arrest warrants alleged that Strickland, a student at Cape Fear Community College, and a University of North Carolina-Wilmington student stole two PlayStation units from another UNC-Wilmington student that day.


The sheriff said the robbery victim had waited three days in line to buy two Playstation 3 units for $641 (euro484) each at a Wal-Mart. He was unloading the units at his campus apartment when one man beat him to the ground while another took the PlayStations, Causey said.


The sheriff said Strickland was shot by members of a a special police unit who went to help university officers serve warrants. He would not say why the special team was assisting.


Strickland's dog, a German shepherd, also was shot to death.


The State Bureau of Investigation is examining the case and three deputies on the team were placed on paid leave, Causey said.


The second man named in the warrants was arrested at another address and was released on bail on Saturday, authorities said.


The nationwide introduction of the Sony game system on Nov. 17 was marked by rowdy crowds and store stampedes. One buyer waiting in line at a Connecticut store was shot by armed robbers.

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Um, am I missing something here? Did they think the controller was a gun or something?


Here is a bit more:


3 deputies on leave after shooting

Investigation continuing in death of suspect described by family as 'kind and gentle'


By Veronica Gonzalez

Staff Writer

[email protected]


Three members of an elite unit of the New Hanover County Sheriff's Department are on paid leave after the fatal shooting of an 18-year-old suspected of stealing two PlayStation 3 video game systems, Sheriff Sid Causey said Sunday.


Whenever law enforcement officers fire their service weapons, it is standard procedure for them to be put on paid leave.


The heavily armed emergency response team - similar to a SWAT unit - was called in Friday to help the UNCW police serve warrants for the arrest of Peyton Brooks Strickland, who was facing charges of armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon and breaking and entering.


Causey did not release the names of the deputies. He acknowledged that the information should be public record but said he was concerned for the deputies' safety.


Strickland's roommate, Mike Rhoton, said Saturday that the two were home alone at 533 Long Leaf Acres Drive playing video games when deputies opened fire on Strickland, who Rhoton said was unarmed, and his German shepherd Blaze, who was also killed.


But Causey indicated that officers and deputies had a reason to fear for their lives.


"If this boy would've come to the door - opened the door - we probably wouldn't be talking," he said.


The emergency response team typically is called to assist in incidents ranging from hostage situations to serving warrants when officers believe they're going into dangerous situations, Causey said.


The sheriff would not say what specifically prompted the need for the emergency response team to arrest Strickland or what transpired at Strickland's home Friday night because the State Bureau of Investigation is examining the incident.


"The plan was to get in the house, secure people and let UNCW (police) search," he said.


In Causey's four years as sheriff, he said, he couldn't recall another time when the UNCW police requested the emergency response team. But this case warranted it, he said.


Deputies were assisting the UNCW police to arrest Strickland on the charges and search the house he rented with three other roommates. They also arrested Ryan David Mills, a 20-year-old UNCW student, on the same charges, according to the university. Mills' address is listed at 4500 Crawdad Court, according to UNCW.


Mills was released from New Hanover County jail after posting a $30,000 secured bond Saturday morning.


A spokeswoman for the Strickland family, Joyce Fitzpatrick, said Sunday that Mills and Strickland were friends.


PlayStation 3 robbery


Strickland and Mills were charged in connection with an incident on Nov. 17, the day the new PlayStation 3 video game system was released. UNCW student Justin Raines had waited in line for about three days to be among the first to buy the console at Wal-Mart on Sigmon Road near the university. He purchased two for $641 apiece.


When Raines went to unload them from his car at his on-campus apartment complex, four men drove up in a gold Pontiac G6. One of them got out and hit Raines repeatedly with a six-inch blunt object, knocking him to the ground, while another man took the video game systems he had just bought.


"I think anytime that someone beats a person severely and commits an armed robbery, I certainly would consider him a risk and a danger," the sheriff said.


Causey said he couldn't disclose the other reasons law enforcement considered Strickland - the only son of well-known Raleigh lawyer Don Strickland - a high risk.


Rhoton, Strickland's roommate, has said deputies shot Strickland as he went to open the door. He said they broke down the door and shot his roommate in the living room.


Rhoton said a hunting rifle and two shotguns were in the house but were unloaded and in Strickland's room. He also said Strickland might have been holding a PlayStation controller in his hand when he approached the front door.


'Kind and gentle boy'


In a statement released Sunday, Strickland's parents, Kathy and Don Strickland, said their son "was a kind and gentle boy."


"He was generous, thoughtful and compassionate," the statement said. "He was deeply loved by us and adored by his two sisters and his extended family. He had tremendous potential and was just coming into his own."


A memorial service for Strickland will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday at The Church of the Good Shepherd in Durham.


Strickland had no criminal record, but he was scheduled for a court hearing in January on a pending assault charge in Wilmington, said Donald Beskind, the law partner of Strickland's father and a friend. Beskind did not give details on the assault, but on Sunday said it was "the kind of thing that happens between two kids."


Next in investigation


When law enforcement officers or deputies fire their service weapon - regardless of whether it's a fatal shooting - they are immediately placed on paid leave.


The clothing, gear and weapons they had at the time of the shooting, along with items at the scene, are taken as evidence until an investigation is completed, Causey said. In this case, even the front door was taken as evidence.


The deputies involved in Friday's fatal shooting have been members of the sheriff's office for several years, the sheriff said.


Causey said that his office will conduct its own investigation into Friday's shooting and that he would release any findings as soon as the SBI concluded its part. "We're not going to sit on it for months," he said.


'High-risk entries'


The emergency response team is made up of six deputies who perform those duties full-time.


"A lot of people don't want to work for an (emergency response team)," Causey said. "It's dangerous. They get killed."


In addition, about 20 other deputies in the roughly 400-member department receive special training to serve on the team, he said.


When the team is called to an incident, as was the case on Friday night, they wear reinforced bullet-proof vests, Kevlar helmets and special goggles. They are armed with a .45-caliber service weapons and rifles, Causey said.


"Normally, the entrance team has a ballistics shield. It's Kevlar and it's maybe 5-foot high, bulletproof," Causey said, adding the shield includes a light to blind people. "They're led by Lt. Doug Price, who is an outstanding law enforcement officer and an outstanding person," he said.


The unit has existed since the 1970s, and many of the members have served in the military.


"All their entries are high-risk entries," Causey said, adding the tactical team knows the history of the people they're facing and whether they have weapons.


2005 shooting


The emergency response team also was involved in a fatal shooting April 28, 2005, when John T. Lewis Jr. was shot to death by team member Donald M. Warnick.


The tactical team was summoned to Lewis' house off Castle Hayne Road after he threatened his wife with a gun. During a standoff, Lewis pointed a loaded .22-caliber gun at deputies.


Loaded weapons were later found in his home.


An investigation into the shooting found that Warnick was justified in firing on Lewis.

Wilmington Star


His roommate said Strickland went to the door as it was bashed in. The police say all he had to do was come to the door and open it. Something is missing there, too.


There is no mention of a prior record, but he was facing armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon charges, as well as an earlier assault charge for an incident of "the kind of thing that happens between two kids." That may be why the emergency response team was called in. But there is not mention of a gun, just a "six-inch blunt object" during the robbery. AP made it seem like the robbery did not involve any weapons. What kind of six-inch blunt object would be used to beat somebody? A rock? The butt of a handgun?


There were guns, unloaded ones, found in the house. But possession of a gun doesn't make one a criminal.

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