12:45 UPDATE: WPD said further investigation showed only one suspect is involved at this time. One of the victims was a pregnant woman shot in the abdomen.
Two people, including a pregnant woman, were shot when a hail of gunfire sent youth baseball players and their parents scrambling at Nolan Park Thursday evening.
A Lumberton man has been charged in the shooting. Whiteville Police Chief Douglas Ipock said a suspect is in custody.
Dashad Maultsby of Lumberton has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury, with intent to kill, shooting into an occupied dwelling and possession with intent to sell and deliver cocaine. He is being held under $1.5 million secured bond.
Initially, Whiteville Police thought a second man was involved, but upon further investigation, Ipock said Maultsby appears to be the only suspect at this time. Investigators are working to determine if there is another shooter.
The shots came from the Sandy Ridge apartment complex, which has been a thorn in the side for police for years. The suspects were using handguns and rifles, according to police.
Robert Avant sustained a head wound and was treated by police until EMS arrived. He was airlifted to New Hanover Regional. Katrina Huggins was struck in the arm and abdomen. Both Huggins and her baby survived.
The 911 call sent a flurry of law enforcement officers from multiple agencies to the park. Ipock said deputies from the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office assisted in capturing Maultsby.
Ipock thanked the sheriff’s office, Highway Patrol and State Bureau of Investigation for their response.
The shooting broke out during the Dixie Boys Showcase, where players try out for teams. Games were also underway at the Rec Center, and T-ball practice was underway when multiple gunshots rang out.
Whiteville City Manager Darren Currie, Parks and Rec Director Blake Spivey and Events Coordinator Charlotte Almada are being hailed as heroes today for their actions during the shooting. Currie is a coach for one of the Dixie Youth teams; Spivey and Almada were at the park in their official capacities. The three shepherded a number of kids to the concrete dugouts and kept them under cover while the shooting took place. Around 30 children were on the field at the time.
Parents are calling for city officials to provide extra security and to crack down on crime at Sandy Ridge. Parents said it is not uncommon to hear gunfire during ballgames and practices at the Nolan complex, but the volume of fire Thursday sent bystanders scrambling for cover in and behind vehicles. Some parents lay on top of their children on the ballfield.
Emergency medical teams from Whiteville Rescue were assisted by Lake Waccamaw Rescue and Klondyke.
The City of Whiteville is working with Carolyn’s Kaleidoscope Child Advocacy Center to provide counseling services at the center, until 7 p.m. for anyone who was at Nolan Park or the recreation center complex Thursday. Call 910.356.0321 for more information.
This is a developing story.