Vance County DA waits to see if Trump yard sign played role in deadly shooting

HENDERSON, N.C. (WNCN) – The family of a Vance County man shot to death in his own home continues to wait for justice.


Ray Harrell died three weeks after he was shot while standing in the front doorway of his Henderson home.

“He was my buddy,” said Ray Harrell’s best friend, Larry Munn. “I hope whoever did this dies 1,000 times.”

Officially, investigators said they have no motive for the deadly shooting, but the local district attorney is looking at the possibility it might have been a hate crime.

District Attorney Mike Waters said that representations made to him by Vance County Sheriff’s investigators lead him to believe there was the possibility that Harrell was targeted because of the Trump for President sign he had in his yard

Waters said he sent a letter to the FBI asking them to stand by to investigate a possible hate crime. (Click to read the letter)

Vance County Sheriff Peter White also received a copy of the Waters’ letter and said he is “not in a position to say it was a hate crime.”

Ray Harrell was a Vietnam veteran – a man who survived that conflict only to die from gunfire aimed at his home.

“He was a nice guy. He didn’t deserve this,” Munn said while crying. “He didn’t deserve it, they killed him.”

Deputies said the incident was a drive-by shooting.

Five bullets hit the house, but the one that did the real damage went through a window.

“It went ‘boom, boom’ twice,” said Dianne Harrell, the victim’s wife. “The next thing I knew my husband hollering, hollering, he said ‘I’ve been shot.'”

The bullet that came through the window went right through a metal door, hitting Ray Harrell as he stood watching a car that had been slowly driving up and down the street.

“I went running in the living room and he had blood running all down in his shoes and everything and he said ‘Call 911,’” Dianne Harrell said.

For the first few days of his hospitalization, the 69-year-old Ray Harrell was recovering.

But complications set in and he died three weeks later, devastating his wife.

“When we buried him, I said I’ll never marry again. I’ve got his wedding ring from the hospital and I’ll never take it off,” Dianne Harrell said.

Dianne said her husband’s death on November 15 left a huge hole in her heart and left her unable to answer one terrible question.

“Why? What’s he done to you? He didn’t bother nobody,” she said.

She waits anxiously for detectives to provide her with that answer by making an arrest.

“I just want them to be punished for what they done to him, I want them to be caught,” Dianne Harrell said.

The Vance County Sheriff told CBS North Carolina that his office is actively pursuing several leads.

The sheriff said he’s confident there will be an arrest, but said they are taking it slow because they don’t want to miss anything as they build their case.

Late Monday afternoon, Waters released a statement that read:

“My job is to prosecute and to offer guidance to law enforcement while they investigate. Whenever a shooting such as this one occurs it is imperative that my office is notified to advise them in their investigation, call for additional resources when appropriate and begin preparing the case for trial.

The Sheriff’s office continues to investigate the facts of this case and our office stands ready to assist them. Mr. Harrell was a good neighbor and like all victims he is worthy of having the best efforts to do justice by him.”

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