Three dead, including suspect
Incidents in two locations Tuesday have left three people dead, including the suspected gunman of a double homicide in Franklin County.
Vance County Sheriff Peter White said Det. Kenneth Ray Wood shot and killed 34-year-old Ricky Junior Toney after a vehicle pursuit ended on Smith Road in Warren County about a tenth of a mile off Cheeks Quarter Road. Wood is on paid leave while a probe that includes the State Bureau of Investigation proceeds.
A second suspect, Joey Kearney, was also injured at the scene and taken to a hospital.
The sheriffs of Warren and Franklin counties joined White at the scene. White said Wood spotted a Volkswagen driven by Toney that Franklin County investigators indicated was taken from the scene of a double homicide in Franklinton.
White said Toney was also a suspect in the Dec. 19 shooting death of 63-year-old Roger Dell Tant at Tant’s Weldon’s Mill Road residence.
“We were looking for him,” White said. “We were looking for the same suspect in the murder of Roger Dell Tant. Wood saw him and pursued. It was not a high-speed chase, but the guy just didn’t stop.”
White said that that deputies and other officers were closing on the pursuit area as Toney turned northbound on Smith then turned around and struck the Ford Crown Victoria driven by Wood.
White said that because an investigation is ongoing by state investigators he would not comment on whether shots were fired by suspects at the scene. He said Wood was the only officer there when the collision and shooting occurred.
“It was just him,” White said. “Others were en route to him. They arrived shortly thereafter.”
Franklin County Sheriff Jerry Jones said one of his deputies followed up a 911 disconnect call made from 1755 West River Road at about 2:30 a.m., arriving to find lights on and the mobile home door open.
“He found two female victims who had been shot dead in that residence,” Jones said.
The names of the victims, according to Jones, were Akesia Michelle Toney, 37, and her daughter Brianna Jones, who was 16.
Akesia Toney had been going by the last name Jones, but court records, including references to domestic violence incidents, indicated she was married to Ricky Toney.
The Franklin County victims were not related to Sheriff Jerry Jones.
White said Wood, a five-year veteran with his department, was not injured from the incident.
“I’m glad he’s OK and that he gets to go home to his family another day,” White said. “He came to us as a deputy, and was promoted to detective in September of this year.”
Jerry Jones said Kearney was wanted by Franklin deputies in connection to the shooting deaths in Franklinton. Kearney was taken from the scene in Warren County to Franklin Medical Center in Louisburg with unspecified injuries.
“When we got to the home on West River Road, it was a shock to us,” Jerry Jones said. “It was terrible. We then got word that the Vance County Sheriff’s Office spotted the vehicle and followed. It was a short chase. No officers were hurt.”
Jerry Jones said he understood from investigators at the scene that at least one suspect fired at a deputy vehicle.
“It was expressed to me that it was a shootout,” he said. “The officer involved was with Vance County.”
White, in response to questions on details, said he could confirm that Wood was driving an unmarked detective’s vehicle, but that it was flashing its pursuit lights and running its code siren.
According to White, the pursuit began in the area of N.C. 39 in Vance County, turned left onto New Bethel Church Road and then right onto Cheeks Quarter.
The point where Cheek’s Quarter branches from New Bethel/County Line Road is where Franklin, Vance and Warren counties meet.
Franklin County deputies and the SBI kept Smith Road closed for several hours during their investigation, leaving neighbors to wait at the intersection with Cheeks Quarter.
White said the probe into Tant’s death pointed in Toney’s direction as a suspect or person of interest.
“We know they were acquainted with each other,” White said.
White declined comment on Kearney’s role or involvement.
Charles Raines, a friend of Tant, called 911 at about 3 p.m., Dec. 22, to let authorities know that he could see Tant’s body lying on the floor and surrounded by blood in the living room of the singlewide trailer home, according to Vance County Det. Donny Thomas.
Officers at the scene reported a very strong odor as indication that Tant had been dead for some time. Raines indicated he had been trying to make contact with Tant for the previous three days.
“A gunshot wound was located at the victim’s right upper chest,” Thomas wrote in a search warrant affidavit.
According to state prison records, Toney, nicknamed “Fatboy,” was last convicted of illegal drug possession in November 2004, receiving a suspended sentence. He was convicted on eluding and DWI charges prior to that, all in Franklin County.
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